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33j> Jftatljantei &. ^fjaler 

FROM OLD FIELDS. Poems. 8vo, $3.00, 
net. Postage extra. 

THE NEIGHBOR. i2mo, $1.40, net. Postage 
10 cents. 

Romance. In five volumes : I. The Corona- 
tion. II. The Rival Queens. III. Armada 
Days. IV. Essex. V. The Passing of the 
Queen. 8vo, the set, $10.00, net. Postage 

i6mo, $1.25. 

KENTUCKY. In the American Common- 
wealths Series. With Map. i6mo, $1.25. 

FACE. Parti. Glaciers. By N. S. Shaler 
and Wm. Morris Davis. Splendidly illus- 
trated. Folio, $10.00. 

Boston and New York. 



$oemg of t^e Ctint War 




M For out of olde feldes, as men seith, 

Cometh al this newe corn fro yeer to yere " 




@bt ftiberjHbe pxew, <Cambri&0e 



Published November igob 





In dedicating this book to the people of Kentucky, I do 
what would have pleased Mr. Shaler, for although he was 
in close sympathy with his adopted Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, and at all times an earnest champion of 
its enlightenment and its noble institutions, yet when it 
was a question of elemental emotion, of the deeper ideals 
of life, he found himself back in the favoured land of 
his birth. Claiming the whole world as his own by divine 
right of sympathy, he professed to be at home every- 
where: nevertheless, his associations with his native State, 
mellowed and made picturesque by hereditary traditions, 
were the surest and most enduring of his possessions, and 
as time wore on his spirit seemed to dwell there with 
strange peace and contentment. In that youthful, gal- 
lant, and victorious world — the world that gave to the 
Confederacy cc The Orphan Brigade," whose prowess is 
celebrated in these pages — he liked to lose his person- 
ality in the general tendencies and accomplishments of its 
people. Imaginatively capable both of their defects and 
their virtues, he was in reality the incarnation of their high- 
est type of gentleman, — the type to which Washington, 
Lee, Thomas, Farragut, and many others belonged, duti- 
ful, just, dignified, and courageous men, equal to all social 
demands, and able to win inspiration from any and every 
call to duty. 

viii Preface 

He ascribed to Kentuckians a certain fine negligence 
and prodigality of nature common to large-hearted men 
who have faith in themselves and in the inexhaustible 
riches of the world. He especially approved the state 
of mind which made solicitude and excessive prudence 
the accessories and not the mainsprings of life. Above 
all, he valued in them the courage to be themselves, 
untrammeled by conventions or by undue concern for 
personal interests. It was these qualities which endeared 
his people to him. 

A few evenings before sending to press the poems con- 
tained in this volume, my husband brought them' to me 
to read once more. When I had finished, struck with 
the fact that some of his heroes were Confederates, I ex- 
claimed : "What does this mean — and you an old Fed- 
eral officer !" Laying down his long-stemmed pipe, for 
a moment he silently gazed into the fire. Then lifting 
his head, his usual alert glance dimmed with emotion, 
cc Well," he said, " those brave lads were my companions 
in youth, and that's why, I suppose, they've claimed the 
right to be where I Ve put them — among my chosen 

The end came before Mr. Shaler was able to correct 
or revise the proof of these poems ; for this service I am 
greatly indebted to his old friend and well-loved pupil, 
Mr. William R. Thayer. 

Sophia P. Shaler. 

August 20, 1906. 


Prologue i 

Near the Front ....... 3 

The Marksman's Work ...... 5 

The Halted Battle 9 

The Master's Rage 12 

The Bad Samaritan 15 

The Way with Mutineers 20 

The Merry Truce 27 

Those Mules ........ 29 

A Midnight Venture 39 

East Tennesseeans ....... 48 

The Georgians . . . . . . . 52 

The Battery ........ 58 

The Eager Muster ...... 64 

The Observant Man 72 

Madame B.'s Review 74 

The General's Yarn ...... 79 

The Order 82 

The New Year's Toast 84 

The Smugglers ....... 86 

Jim's Pardner's Tales 90 

The Forgotten Outpost 103 

x Contents 

The Great Raid II2 

Augusta ^6 

The Story 146 

Cumberland Gap . . . . . . . 170 

The Rescue March 200 

Under the Banner ...... 220 

Told in the Dark 286 

The Change of Front ...... 289 

The Leader's Prayer 291 

The Artillery Chief ...... 292 

Appomattox : The Confederate's Story . . . 294 

The Soldier's Way ...... 297 

The Happy Release 300 

The Burial Place ....... 304 

The Orphan Brigade 307 



What should we do with ancient deeds and days 
That in the ancient way go to the deep 
Straight as a plummet till they find their place 
In its enduring silence ? Leave them slip 
From light to dark, and watch the tiny whirl 
Upon the swift glassed ocean till there comes 
Another whirling, token of where sinks 
Again brave man or deed? Nay, so the brutes 
In the brute time, atom and molecule 
Planets and suns trooped from the dark to dark ; 
So too their children in the beasts and birds 
Went unremembered out of light and life 
Leaving of chaunting soul and lion's heart 
Naught but their progeny to brave and sing 
Their little while in air and be forgot. 
It is the part of man to treasure men 
And set their splendours in the heaven's vault, 
Until those stars shall make us endless day 
To banish villain night. 'T is his to help 
The Architect in shaping out of dust 
His temple that uplifts within the void 
To be the habitation of the all 
That wins His splendour ; till there be no more 
Of death that knows but dust. 

So let us on 


Upon this goodly work, — shape as we may 
Its deep foundations from our brother's deeds 
Built to uphold His fane, — set in its walls 
Imperishable gems they wrought from dust, 
And grace it with all grace of memory, — 
Turn every stone they wrought and seek the face 
That shines the fairest in the glint of sun, — 
Care even for the shards they cast away 
So that they bear the touch of their dear hands, — 
Let to the plummet's deep alone the shames, 
Those ugly prints on earth trod by the feet 
That strove unknowing upward. Thus we may 
Be helpers of the Master. 


A street in country town at midnight time : 

Above, the harvest moon ; below, the earth 

War-stricken, desolate. On either side 

Is utter ruin ; here, by flame that left 

But whitened remnants, — there, yet sorrier 

In shops and dwellings where the doors stand wide 

And trampled goods tell plain that plunderers 

Have ravaged where men stored. Along this street 

Is laid a hard-marched column by its arms : 

Close-packed upon the sidewalks, with the feet 

In dusty gutters and each side the way 

Crammed close as herring in a box ; they sleep 

With breasts to sky or earth : shaped as they '11 lie 

Within the trenches ere the shovelers 

Have done their part. Upon the unblocked road, 

Six paces wide, pass on the endless trains 

Of laden wagons, guns, and cavalry 

To hard-pressed front : and a like ceaseless line 

Of ambulances bearing to the rear 

Their loads of misery. The creaking wheels 

Crunch on the loosened stones two feet away 

From outer lines of heads, and send the dust 

Upon their senseless eyes. The riders sway 

Nigh out their saddles and the horses lean 

One 'gainst the other as they stumble on, 

4 Near the Front 

For they, too, slumber — yea, this world 's asleep, 

Save from each ambulance the wounded tell 

They know their torment. There one pleads for drink 

Poor chap, his bandage 's loosened and he thirsts 

Because his life flows out. He '11 soon be still : 

His cry is but a quaver ; he '11 soon slake 

Thirst at the eternal spring. See, there goes 

A woman treading softly through the host, 

Scanning the faces upturned to the sky 

With eager stealth. Swift glance and then swift on 

Until she *s out of sight. 


The silent lines 
Are set against each other in the pause 
That comes before the battle ; watching near 
The chance of stroke and parry. Waiting still 
For some last vantage of new men, or guns, 
Or for belated scouts who search the point 
Where well-aimed blow may tell. It is a time 
When soul is tense as bowstring with its shaft 
Down to the head : when all the leaders watch 
As cats before the pounce. 

In front of us 
Are fields whereon for half a mile there is 
No note of what 's to come. The sheep feed there, 
As by the shambles they are wont to crop 
What good earth sends of nurture. But away 
Nigh thousand yards beyond our outer force, 
Are foemen's pickets : on their line a house, 
The homestead of these fields, and by its side, 
Beneath an orchard's shade, a battery 
Where men lie by their guns, while right and left 
Stretches the dun line of their waiting host. 
Upon the housetop, seated on the crest, 
There sits a soldier, bending o'er a board, 

The Marksman's Work 

Making a sketch-map of our front. We see 

With the unaided eye no more than this, 

For in that distance man is but a mite — 

Mere fleck 'gainst earth or sky. Yet with the glass 

We change him to near neighbour. So we find 

He is an officer, fair-shaped and young, 

Who 's deftly at his task. Now he looks up, 

And with hand-shaded eyes he scans our front : 

Then with his pencil turns them to his sketch. 

It is a pretty sight, as innocent 

As the sheep cropping in the quiet field, 

And yet he knows 'tis venture, hardiest 

A man may make in war, and we know well 

He is a brave man whom we needs must slay 

So swift we can. 

Quick the commander calls — 
" Here, Captain, have a gun with your best squad 
And knock that fellow off." 

" It shall be done. 
But you should see that close beside that house 
They have a battery, and to my gun 
They 're sure to send an answer from their own ; 
And then the dance begins." 

"We don't want that, 
Yet we must stop that rascal." 

" Let me call 
A fellow from the regiment that serves 
As my support. He is the crackest shot 

The Marksman's Work 

From Minnesota : used to just such work 
In potting redskins." 

" Have him for a try — 
Nine hundred yards — I '11 bet a hat he '11 miss, 
Yet it is worth the trying, for the ball 
May scare the villain off." 

Up comes the man, 
A lank and grizzled fellow, with the eye, 
Blue-grey and strangely steadfast, of the sort 
Who have the slaying habit. " Can you hit 
That chap upon the housetop ? " 

" Guess I can, 
It is a long shot, but there ain't no wind." 

Slowly he loads his rifle ; then he goes 
Down to a fence ; looks long and silently 
As if he paced the distance in his mind : 
Now lies upon his belly ; finds a rest 
To hold his piece that suits him, by a post. 
We see him ready, and with glass to eyes 
A score watch for the end. There sits the youth, 
The picture of an artist at his task, 
Outgoing to the world and bringing back 
Share of its wealth. How happy he seems there 
In the new morning! Crack! the rifle rings: 
We hold breath for an instant. There he goes 
Backward behind the ridgepole, while his sketch 
Flits down the roof towards us. As the face 
Slips out of sight, we see the startled look 

The Marksman's Work 

That comes upon it when the man knows death. 
We close our glasses ; not a word is said ; 
The marksman stalks away ; he does not look 
Into our eyes, but straightway on : and we 
Keep eyes from others' faces and seek out 
Some trifling thing to do. 


They are hard at it ; veteran brigades 

Who Ve chased each other up and down the land 

Till one has turned at bay. Near-by are groups 

Of men who hold the horses nose to nose, 

A dozen in a bunch, where they find place 

To 'scape the scorching fire ; and there the lines : 

Not as you see them pictured in fair rows 

Like garden plants, but scattered creeping men 

By ones and twos and threes that slip right on, 

Kneeling to shoot, running to win their way, 

And sometimes toppling when the way is lost 

For this world's faring. There upon the hills 

Are set the batteries, they too most unlike 

The artist's business — each with six great guns, 

As neatly lined as books upon a shelf, 

With dancing dolls about them. They 're well hid, 

You never see a muzzle or a man, 

But know them by their shout, the puffs of smoke, 

The screech of shrapnel and the cloud in air 

That sends its leaden hail. Ay, here is war, 

With its infernal splendour naught can quell 

Until the fire 's flamed out. All earth's priests 

With book and candle could not exorcise 

That demon from this field. 

But now there comes 

io The Halted Battle 

The mightier, a maid upon a horse. 

A whiff of wind and there she is amidst 

The plump of shot and shell. She goes straight on, 

As if 't was custom with her thus to ride 

Into the gates of Hell. With a " Good Lord ! " 

And else of expletive, the leader calls 

The bugler to sound truce, lifts the white flag 

So that his brethren other side of field 

In wonder halt their fire. Sends forth an aid 

With handkerchief on sabre to explain 

A woman owns the field, that till she 's off, 

The battle needs be. Then he seeks the lass : 

The damsel undisturbed is chatting on 

With those beside her, very much at ease, 

As if this old world were so very good 

That Satan could not mar it. Now he says, 

" Well, little woman, what has brought you here ? 
This is no place for you." 

" I 'm going to my ma's 
I Ve been a-visiting, 't is my way home." 

"Yes, yes, but don't you see we Ve business 
With other fellows, and you will get hurt ; 
So go back to your friends and stay with them 
Until we 've done our job." 

" I told you, sir, 
I 'm going to my ma's. What I 've to do 
Is most important, so you '11 have to wait 
Till I get by." The general mops his face, 
Sputters a bit in undertones, then laughs, 

The Halted Battle i i 

Rocking to saddlebow. Now he rides on, 
The damsel by his side, upon the way. 
First through his own troops, who rise up and cheer, — 
A shout with sorrow in it, for the lass 
Brings back the memory of far-off homes, 
Of sisters and of sweethearts ; now 'cross fields 
That were debated, to the foeman's lines 
For a like greeting. Most courteously 
He hands her to his foeman. " This dear girl 
Is for her ma's ; 't will need full half an hour 
Before she 's out of range ; let our flag stay 
Until that time is up." The other says : 
" Would it could stay for good : it will be hard 
To go straight back to Hell in half an hour." 


a soldier's story 

Pap Thomas did n't talk much with his tongue, 

But when it came to doing, then oh, my ! 

He was an orator to lift your hair. 

He and their Stonewall Jackson had the trick 

Of saying nothing till their job was done, 

And nothing afterwards. Virginians 

Are mighty queer. The half of them all gab, 

The other half whack hard and march right on 

To find the next chance. So it was with Pap. 

At first we thought him dumb, but we soon learned 

The way he talked. You must remember how 

He whooped old Hood right ofT of Nashville field 

So fast and far, that Old Nick never found 

Where his headquarters were. He did that job 

In Quaker-meeting way : kept mighty still 

Until the Lord was ready : then went on 

As if he owned the sky. I '11 tell you now 

A story that ain't printed, but it shows 

The way he preached. 

We were a scurvy lot 
Of raw recruits ; both men and officers 
Were mostly in for Hell. The decent chaps 
Were scared of those who warn't. Then came old Pap. 

The Master's Rage 13 

At first we grinned and wondered what he 'd do, 

And planned our darndest just to find it out. 

We found it pretty quick. He did n't stop 

For grand review, as all the others did 

When they came for a try. He rode straight down 

The halted column : so we could n't work 

The rackets we had rigged, and when we tried 

To get up something as he passed, his eyes 

Went right straight through us and we felt ashamed, 

And mad because we did. Now when he came 

To where our company stood, we 'd scattered out 

To raid a little farm. Our captain first — 

He was a cuss. He led us in such games, 

But when we 'd business he 'd the belly-ache. 

He 'd set the house afire, and now came out 

With both arms full of plunder, — women's clothes, 

A mantel-clock, et cet'ra, — looking round 

To find the stolen wagon where he kept 

The things he ragged for shipment. Then Pap comes 

With all his staff; reined up and took it in, — 

The burning house, the looting, and our Cap 

With his mule-load of stealings. With a jump 

He 's off his horse and square before the cuss, 

Whose shoes seemed stuck to ground. 

Then slowly Pap relieved him of his load, 

Set down the clock and laid the women's clothes 

Right careful on the grass. We fellows thought 

Now we 'd the chance to play at horse with him, 

So we began to holler : then stopped off 

14 The Master's Rage 

At what was doing. Silent still, old Pap 
Took out the cuss's sword, and with a whack 
Upon the door-stone made it smithereens ; 
Pulled off his uniform and left him there 
Stark naked in the cold. When Pap was done, 
Without a word he climbed back on his horse 
And rode on down the line. My, we were still 
Who saw it all, and those who did n't knew 
Somehow or other of it — knew with us 
That we had come bang up against the Lord 
And must behave as men. As for the Cap — 
We emptied out his wagon for the folks 
Who owned the farm and chucked him naked in. 
He squealed Pap had no right to strip him bare. 
I reckon that is so. Reg'lations say- 
Nothing about it : Uncle Moses, too, 
Don't take it up. But when you find Old Nick 
Inside a chap, I reckon that you have 
A right to whale him out, and need n't be 
Too durned particular not to spoil the hide 
When he has been let in. You bet there were 
A lot of welts on Jew backs when He'd done 
With cleaning out the temple. 


After the reapers, enter in the folk 

Who glean from stubble what they may of corn, — 

The bowed, the children, cripples of the fight 

They 've waged with earth, and those who watch for morn 

When they may find their battle. They are done, — 

For two-score years, the days when o'er our fields 

Death led his train of sturdy harvesters, 

Whose sickles swept them bare : but to our day 

The gleaners heap their sheaves of noble deeds 

The histories know not ; deeds that shine as stars 

On swift way to the dark — told once and then 

Unto forgetfulness. One of these tales 

May be as sample, showing how there lies 

Wealth in the nooks and crannies of this land; 

Vast store of valour, faith of man to man ; 

Trust in the living God. 

In Washington, 
I came upon a friend, a congressman, 
Sometime a Rebel : ever faithful man 
To what he saw of duty. In his youth 
He was a shapely giant, but was shorn 
Of right leg at the hip and left to fight 
Life's battle with his crutches. When I came 
Into his room 'twas dark. To welcome me 
He sought to light the gas in chandelier. 

1 6 The Bad Samaritan 

It was high placed, so that he needed stretch 
His six foot six on tiptoe. Twice he fell 
Before the task was done. I gave no help, 
For well I knew he 'd smite me with his crutch 
Before he 'd have it. When my Hercules 
Had done the job, he turned to me and said, 

" I 've found the man who saved me." He was full 
Of the brave story I had often tried 
To have him tell, and now he told it thus : — 

" I was with Morgan in the second fight 
We had at Cynthiana : we 'd been driven 
For two days' hard march ; at the ford we turned 
To be well beaten, hustled off the field : 
In the last charge, I was hard hit and fell. 
I knew I 'd slipped from saddle ; nothing more 
Until I waked to find Samaritan, 
A Federal soldier, caring for my wound. 
He put a bandage and a twister on 
As if he knew the trade. He gave me drink 
From his canteen until I emptied it, 
Then filled his own and mine and laid them down 
Where I could reach them. While he cared for me 
As though he were my brother, — so he was 
Unto the Christ and me, — there came a wolf 
On two legs with a gun across the field : 

1 Stand off,' he cried, c and I will finish him/ 
You know the brute, he 's seldom seen, and goes 
Hotly upon the trail." 

"I know the kind. 

The Bad Samaritan 17 

He 's not for the despatches, nor for long 
When true men are about." 

" True man was there 
And did it neatly. Then he stooped and asked 
My name and number ; wrote them on a slip 
And pinned it to my breast. I knew well, 
Though far and faintly, what that meant, and yet 
'Twas good to have it done, — so gently done — 
Then came the assembly : calling for pursuit 
Of what was left of my side. So he turned 
To heed the call. Then back to me once more, 
Stripped off his overcoat and wrapped me close. 
I well remember that, and then no more 
Until weeks after in the hospital. 
The war was ended, and I was the last 
Of all the lot. I had full time to think 
Of what to do. There lay I like a hulk, 
As helpless as when born ; and there away 
Far in the west, there were a wife and child 
Waiting for me to help them in sore need. 
We were as poor as churchmice. It looked bad, 
And yet the memory of that dear chap 
Who saved me on that field helped mightily, 
For in a world where foe could be so true 
There was sure chance of friends. They packed me off 
As soon as it was safe, and shut the door 
Of the last hospital. I 'd transportation home, 
And there good welcome to grim poverty 
From neighbors all dead poor. Their store was gone, 

1 8 The Bad Samaritan 

Save what they held in heart. I could not eat 

Share of their scanty food — must work : but how ? 

I had four fifths of me, the other fifth 

Was in the grave, and it takes all a man 

To win him out of ruin. You can't guess 

How I began ! You 've seen sulky ploughs, 

Those Yankee tricks with two wheels and two shares, 

Shaped so you sit and drive and do the work 

Of two old-fashioned rigs. There was my chance. 

A man who 'd known my father helped me buy 

The plough and horses. I was once more man 

Facing the world. I broke tobacco fields, — 

You know our staple, — ploughed the growing crops 

For wage that seemed a fortune. In a year 

I bought a farm, and within five was rich 

For a one-legged ploughboy. I read law, 

Slipped into politics, but kept my hold 

Upon the land, and soon had wealth enough 

For two stout legs to carry. All the while, 

For twenty years, my mind ran on that man, 

That enemy who 'd been my friend in need — 

God's mercy when I lay beside my grave. 

I never knew a day of happiness — 

Mine have been mighty happy — but I thought 

If he had passed me by 't would not have been. 

I tried to find the fellow ; got the rolls 

Of the commands that were upon that field 

And searched in vain to guess him. Sought the men 

With whom he 'd served : but I had lost his shape — 

The Bad Samaritan 19 

When you 've been smote, you do not heed such things, 

You only know the help. Offered reward — 

To have a score of scoundrels at my heels — 

He must be dead ; so I would never know 

His name or grave. And now at last he 's found. 

Can you believe it ? There in my own town. 

A weary chap who 'd lost in life's hard fight — 

Seedy and old. Full fifty times he 'd heard 

The story from me : for 't was often told 

In hope 'twould bring the clue. He knew right well 

That I would share with him what he had given 

Upon that field, and yet the chap held still : 

Grinned at the tale, and made as if he thought 

It was a yarn such as a fellow spins 

When crazy from a wound as I had been. 

I Ve had it out with him : he was right mad 

That I had spotted him before he died, 

For then he would n't mind." 


If you need exploration of your soul, 
Get a command of raw men — reprobates 
From minstrel shows and jails. Tumble them in 
Red-hot campaign to shape them on the march 
And in the fight for service. You '11 soon find 
Their stuff and yours : a month of it will send 
The plummet deeper than three-score and ten 
Of ordered years where all earth's pleasant ways 
Are trodden clear by custom, fenced by law 
From the great wilderness. This story tells 
The way of life you'll tread when your sore feet 
Must stumble through such wild. 

'T is just a week 
Since, men and guns assembled, he, the youth 
Who 's dubbed their captain, set about his task 
Of breaking them to harness. Yea, they chafe, 
Those hard drawn thongs : it takes a bit of time 
Before men's hides are calloused and their souls 
Bend to the mastering. This is a day 
When griefs have come to head, and half the force 
Are ripe for mutiny. They need but rum, 
A little touch of it, and they '11 lash out. 
They get it — Lord knows where — it seems to leak 
Through sentries as through sieves, or it slips down 
As manna from the sky. First comes a rush 

The Way with Mutineers 21 

Of half a score, the leaders, for his tent. 

He meets them 'fore it, and with three steps back 

And well-timed stroke of sword, sent flat on ears, 

He fells the foremost three. The others hear 

The swish and spank and see their comrades fall 

To right and left and lie as though they 're dead : 

That cools their rum. He calls the trusty guard — 

The saving remnant — tithe of that sad lot; 

The seeming dead are forth to calaboose : 

They'll come round in an hour, with nothing worse 

Than two days' singing in their informed ears. 

'Tis but a trifle, told because it tells 

As ever does the sword when it is swung 

By well-trained arm and wits that know its end's 

To have the fellow down, and not to slay 

In novice fashion. Here it further served, 

For in his force there was a lieutenant 

Of twice his years, old soldier from o'er sea 

In search of fortune. Until now he 'd been 

Mutinous himself in soul, to have a lad 

New to the touch of arms set o'er his head. 

When they came howling on he drew his sword 

Ready to help, but waiting for command : 

But in his eyes a look that told his chief 

What hid behind it of expectancy. 

In such swift times you see much — if at all ; 

The captain saw, and knew the fellow longed 

To have it turn to profit, and it nerved 

Soul for the strokes he sent. The man was true, 

22 The Way with Mutineers 

For all promotion 's dear. That business done, 
He gave salute with sword and generously, 
In way that told his nurture, said to him : 

" I make my compliment, it was well done; 
My Captain knows dot trick ! M and they were friends 
At touch of common trade. The youth had learned 

" Dot trick " when but a stripling, at the hands 
Of a great master, who taught him the sword. 
Such things to be had surely need to grow 
Into the waxing lad in his first teens, 
So that the muscles do it in the need 
Just as they serve the tiger's in his spring — 
Mere wits would boggle it. 

It 's now the time 
For evening drill with guns. The men need have 
Yet further lesson that their captain 's fit 
To hold them to their work. He has just learned 
From his first sergeant that he is contemned 
By all the men because he cannot swear — 
Their test of manly virtue. He loathes that — 
But as it 's needful, he now harks him back 
To certain memories of Skipper Small, 
With whom he'd sailed a short twelvemonth before — 
Misnamed, for he was mighty in most things 
That make a man, and wondrous in the way 
In which he hurled profanity to sky : 
No cheap and vulgar snarling, as you hear 
From the land-lubber, but the roar of sea, 
Of battling ships and storms. Those Spanish things 

The Way with Mutineers 23 

That cut your soul like knives ; Italian 

To scorch your kindred, mixed up with those psalms, 

Imprecatories, with Semitic art to damn 

For this world and the next, went in to make 

What English lacked of Satan's litany. 

It was a thing famed to the furthest seas, 

And fitly, for in it you heard a soul 

Contending with the deeps. It 's well to say 

That Small, ashore, was deacon ; there his speech 

Was very gentle, almost ladylike. 

He roared but seldom, even on the seas ; 

But gods and men attended when he did. 

A little conning, and that litany 

Is ready for the service. All an hour 

Those chaps in calaboose are in their minds : 

Then once again the horse play and foul chaff. 

He 's waited for the moment ; then lets forth 

That sulphurous inundation. First they stare, 

Then pale and gasp. Poor things, they 'd dreamed they 

swore ! 
Ten minutes of the blast and they are tamed. 
He never swore again — there was no need, 
For now they 're sure that though he is a boy, 
That boy's been deep in Hell. So he has right 
To be their over-lord. 

Yet one more scene, 
The worst in all these acts, and it is done, 
This task of breaking in. The captain finds 
Near by his camp, at dusk, one of his men, 

24 The Way with Mutineers 

Macdonald by his name, with shape that fits 

The Scotch Hibernian at his very best, 

Frightening a decent woman, touch of rum 

And fulness of the Devil in his hide. 

He's quickly tethered, but he raves right on 

In the rough Irish way, smites lustily, 

And hurls death warrants at his captain's head. 

He 's bucked and gagged, a horse-bit in his mouth 

Well strapped behind his ears, and so he's laid 

To ruminate till morning in the pen. 

At break of day, he's loosened: with the leap 

Of tiger cat he is straight at the throat 

Of man who helps him. Something must be done, 

Else what 's been done is lost. A mutineer 

Who keeps it up as this, infects a camp 

As does the plague and swifter. Custom bids 

You send a bullet through his head and cast 

His carcass in the trench ; for in campaign 

There is no court-martialing for common men 

When they turn mutineers. Yet 'tis a man — 

Just now the very best of "number ones" — 

With whom he has to deal. They're hard to find — 

Strong, nimble fellows, who sponge out the gun, 

Ram home the cartridge — take the blast that comes — 

Born and not made, as poets. Noble chap 

When parted from his Satan : devil's own, 

When they, as now, are joined. The captain tries 

A saving stroke : he has him crucified 

Upon the spare wheel, such as you have seen 

The Way with Mutineers 25 

Hanging behind the caisson : well strapped down, 

To hang there till he or his Satan dies, 

In sight of all the camp. All through the day 

From hour to hour the captain waits on him 

To ask if he will soldier. Finds Old Scratch 

Still has him in his clutch. The end's in sight; 

The pulses stopped. The surgeon says he'll die 

Before the sun is down. So now with two 

To serve as witnesses, the captain goes 

Once more to him : tells him that death is near, 

And asks his will with what he has to leave — 

His little kit : his pay : last word for home. 

At this, the devil tears out, and the man 's 

Once more the master : he begins to weep 

And says he '11 soger. In a trice he 's down : 

Rubbed, dosed, and cheered with friendliness, until 

Life surges back — close squeak, and yet he won 

Out from the shadow gate. That topped the task, 

For when Macdonald's devil hied him forth, 

He called his minions from the others' hearts. 

It is a fearful sight to see a man 

Hang on the tree as slow life ebbs away — 

It besomed all their souls. 

Two years are gone, 
That captain 's elsewhere, when there comes to him 
A splendour of man, first sergeant's stripes 
Upon his uniform. So once again 
Macdonald stands before him : changed in all 
Save for his birthright of majestic shape, 

26 The Way with Mutineers 

And might to swing it. He has come to thank 
The Captain for his help in casting out 
The devil that had ruled him all his days 
Until he found that cross, and then rent forth 
And left him free as man. 

Why drag these tales 
Out of the dark that cloaks infinity 
Of just such shames ; done in the ancient way 
In sinning for the Lord. Deeds that wake men 
For two-score years thereafter wondering 
What they were when they did them. 'T is for those 
Who fancy war hosts are celestial, 
With planetary order swaying them — 
Who see the well-shaped myriads on parade 
Swing to the flare of bugle, tap of drum, 
And think that law is there. 'T is might ye see ; 
Hard, brutal might, that bears the soul right down 
And welds it to its neighbour with the stroke — 
Yea, it is order — that of nether Hell. 
Sherman was right — he knew. So do not bring 
To me your rage and protest good the way 
Our comrades use the water cure and else 
Of shame on Filipinos ; just as well 
Complain that Tophet 's hot : that devils do 
Their damn'dest in its circles. 


Over against each other lie the lines. 

It's winter in the South, and that means mud 

Knee-deep in roads and fields. So now the men 

Squat round the smudging camp-fires and wait on 

For the good Lord to send an earth that fits 

For Satan's work : until the glorious sun 

Shall shoot the thrill of spring deep in the ground 

And shape the footing, so that men may tread 

The ways of war. They while away the days 

In idle jokes alike on friends and foes. 

They are right neighbourly : the pickets play 

Old sledge together ; have their swapping trades, 

And yarns of what they Ve done, and what they '11 do 

When springtime comes again. — And when there comes 

A flag of truce, 't is a red-letter day 

For those who bear it forth, while those who stay 

Can gossip of its purpose for a week. 

This morning one goes forth. Our general 's heard 

That his old father 's ill. His enemy, 

House friend and schoolmate, kinsman of degree, 

Who leads the Yanks, will have the news from home. 

So ra-ta-ta of bugles and a pole 

With rag atop gives right to cross the field 

Between the outposts to the foeman's lines, 

And have an hour's chaff. Their general 

28 The Merry Truce 

Gives kindly welcome, grave, a bit reserved, 

As fits a flag of truce, and better yet 

A breakfast to the escort. Rules of war 

Are set against such grace, for you should keep 

Your foeman's belly empty for the chance 

Swifter to smite him down. But those who bear 

A white flag are good friends while it is up, 

On mutual business bent, and so they claim 

The mess right with you. Now comes idle talk 

Of swapping prisoners, of sundry mules 

A widow 's lost and Federal scouts have found ; 

Then to the pith of it — the old man's health. 

He is reported better, nigh to well, 

But sore borne down with sorrow that his son 

Is a damned Rebel. For yet other news 

Our host sends with his compliments a jug 

Unto our leader, knowing it will give 

Some further consolation to his mate. 

Back comes the flag again, then, Ra-ta-ta 

And it is lowered. Foes we are again. 

The pickets are alert, for well they know 

That after truce there's apt to be a row. 

There 's nothing but a racket in the tent 

Of our good leader — on until the morn. 

Again the flag of truce climbs o'er the field, 

With his regards and very earnest prayer 

For further news from Frankfort. 


There's much of horses in our songs and hearts — 

We Ve shaped and sung them since we have known how 

For when man 's in the saddle he's a king 

Set over all afoot. But of the mule — 

That understudy of the noble beast 

Who with the porker rules our modern war — 

There never lifts a lay. The soldier knows 

The reason of it. 'T is the mule has wits. 

While horse has none. The knowing Greeks knew that 

At least, last half of it — for they well-named 

The horse as Allogon — the senseless thing ; 

Who owns the master's hand and so is praised : 

While mule for his stout will is ever damned 

In this world and the next ; so far as words 

And whacks can do it. — Here 's a tale or two 

To show what makes the soldier hate a mule 

And something of their ways. 

An afternoon 
In August; with but a hundred yards between 
Our line and Johnny's. Air is hot and still 
And mostly made of horseflies. The captain seeks 
A moment's sleep. Last night Rebs had him up 
From two o'clock 'till daybreak — just for fun, 
Also to wear him out — the way of war — 
Civil or other. Now the captain dreams 

30 Those Mules 

Of a fair nook beside the soothing sea, 

When all at once the picket where the mules 

Are anchored is in uproar : five of them 

With that stout set back full they do so well 

Have parted cables, bray their triumph forth, 

And set their noses south. The captain jumps 

For saddle-horse, rides hard to turn them back: 

Heads two and shoots them : shouts to sentinels 

And outposts for like help, but they aim wild. 

They're good at hitting widows' cows at night, 

But mighty poor at mules. So on they go, 

Leaping like antelopes, until they come 

Right in the Johnnies' lines. They're welcome there, 

Roared by ten thousand, and are marched away 

On brave parade, with merry trumpeters, 

In sight of all our camp. — The captain goes 

Back to his tent to see what he 's to do. 

The " army bible " shows you how you may 

" Take up" strayed horses on your next account, 
But nothing says of mules who have eloped 
Straight to the enemy. So now he 's forth 
For veteran advice. The West Point chap 
Knows well his trade : haply there 's one nearby 
With ready counsel. "You are in a fix; 
Three hundred dollars out ; that 's two months' pay," 
Is the brief statement. 

"What am I to do?" 

" What other fellows do when they lose mules ; 
Contrive it so that when the inspector comes 

Those Mules 31 

Your mates to right or left will lend you three, 

So soon they 've done with him. You '11 have a chance 

To fill that hole next time there comes a fight, 

If Johnny lets us stay." So it is done : 

Right neighbourly the needed mules come round 

Before the inspector, to be counted twice. 

I sometimes thought I saw him grin a bit 

As if he caught the trick. It is their trade 

To know a critter they have seen before 

Within a year or two. But custom 's law, 

And they are comrades. Soon there came that chance : 

A shindy harvested three lonesome mules — 

C. S. above the U. S. on their hides. 

They were the same old mules ; they seemed right glad 

To be where they belonged : to hear their bray 

Well-answered by their friends. 

Two lines — the "Yanks" and "Johnnies" — in the 

clutch — 
Hard day is done, a harder is to come. 
A hundred yards between them as they lie 
Upon their arms to sleep. The moon is full, 
And 'twixt the troops a dozen frisky mules, 
As is their wont, are braying ; like tom-cats 
Raised to the N 111 power. Now a sleepy call — 
"Hello, Yank!" 

"Hello, Johnny!" 

" Let 's have a truce 
To shoot those cussed mules so we can sleep, 

32 Those Mules 

We won't be worth a damn unless we do." 

It is agreed; a dozen shots: 'tis done. 

So they are fresh at daybreak for their task. 

Once more of mules and men. The captain 's bid 
To shape an outfit of a dozen teams 
Each of six mules. The empty wagons stand 
Gay as recruits in their new uniforms — 
Twelve prairie schooners with their canvas tents 
Still innocent of grime. His task it is 
To horse them with safe mules ; to cram them full 
Of war's hard merchandise of shot and shell 
That they may face the racket — deal their store 
Along the battle line — so empty maws 
Of guns may have their fill. First he's forth 
To find a dozen " contrabands " who know 
By birthright of mule nature : know right well 
To shape it to the need. It's easy done. 
For in the black 's the primitive that fits 
To primitive of mule. White hostler goes 
Square at the beast in ugly mastering way — 
" Stand over there, you cuss " — slaps currycomb 
Down on the tender hide. What wonder, then, 
The ancient instinct, ages bred, springs up 
And out sends slap of heels. The negro comes 
Sidling towards the critter, rubs his nose, 
Palavers to him in that gentle voice 
Soothing to beasts and men. Slips gently on 
Until he 's master of the willing soul 

Those Mules 33 

That longs for friendliness from mastering hand 

As all the herding brutes. Next for the mules — 

The corral has a plenty : fresh from fields 

Where they were bred in peace until the time 

When they set forth behind the old white mare, 

Bell-wether to the flock, who led them on, 

Unshackled still, unto adventures strange. 

Of shoe or bridle, whip or spur, they know 

No more than babes in cradles. They 've not learned 

To set their heads together in a bunch 

And catapult with heels 'gainst hungry foe 

Who sought a breakfast — art their forbears learned 

At price of life — right useful wickedness 

Now deep down in the pit, and there 'twill stay 

Unless the devil stirs it. From the lot, 

Some thousand more or less, the captain picks 

His six score carefully for teams and spares. 

In what they have to do there 's many a nip 

Unsparing of their lives. So with each six 

Go two for swift replacements. Few enough — 

A day may find the chance. It is a task 

That calls for wits and faith that beasts are kin, 

Shaped of the impalpable that makes men's souls — 

With range from saints to sinners, fools to wise, 

Cowards to heroes, in the uniform of hides 

That to the unobservant look all like. 

He's good at it. With Agassiz he learned 

The master's art of seeing what is hid 

Behind the commonplace, that blinks the eyes 

34 Those Mules 

Of those who see all plain. Besides, by grace of God, 
He loves all living things. So, one by one, 
The offerings are studied each apart. 
Here is the first for judgment. — If your sense 
Of equine beauty 's fixed to fit the horse, — 
Not fitly catholic, — he'll seem to be 
Huddle of disproportions from his ears 
To tail and heels. But if you take him thus, 
You 're neither humanist nor naturalist. 
They both know well that every living kind 
Hath garment of God's beauty all its own, 
That needs be looked for largely from within. 
Let 's scan this monster thus : First for the face : 
It 's very gentle : with those notes that stay 
Of all the myriad strivings of old times 
To set a soul in flesh, perhaps the best 
Till we came near our kind : and anthropoids — 
Suck-giving mothers — get that yearning look, 
Foreshadowing the deeps that we have found. 
There 's a strange pathos in a young mule's face, 
Soon beaten out : it makes you think he knows 
He is a bastard : placeless in this world, 
When else of life has strongholds in its kind ; 
Withal a comic look. Fruit-eating bats 
From Zanzibar have that same comedy 
Writ on their little faces, as they 'd say, 
" This business of living is a joke " — 
As well it may be. Few beasts find it out, 
And fewer men. As for those wondrous ears, 

Those Mules 35 

'T is only custom 's 'gainst them. They 're well-shaped 
As trumpets' mouths. They tell the seeing eye 
Of age-long hearkening in vanished wilds 
For tread of vanished hunger. Hap our own 
Had been the like, but that our ancestors 
'Scaped from the battle with their wits, and hung 
Above the lion's path 'mid sheltering boughs 
That gave them safety. Else our withered shells 
Would seem as strange. 

Go gently to the thing, 
In blackman's way stroke neck and rub the nose 
To see his eyes dance and his frame key up 
As boy at play. Now pass hand o'er his hide, 
That marvellous encasement of the form 
Set from all else apart to hold its share 
Of the great marvel, life. How soft and smooth : 
Quick to the touch, informing all within 
Of what's without. Behold those shapely limbs, 
Those legs the trimmest instruments you find 
For dealing with hard earth — good thews of steel 
Encased in velvet. Athletes' arms are fine, 
So, too, air-cleaving wings. But here we have 
The finished work of hap ten million years 
Done on the vulgar dust. How delicate 
For all their slaying might ! They have come forth 
From endless essays, each weighed in the scales 
Where balanced life and death. The failure cast 
Into the dust-heap : success sent right on 
To the far goal. Now to the nimble hoofs, 

36 Those Mules 

Those equine wonders where the fingers five 

Of far-off ancestors have one by one 

In trials of the ages slipped away, 

Until there stays alone this which does all 

The once divided task. How shapely, strong: 

Steel hammer for hard strokes. For it has slain 

In long-forgotten ancestors and wilds 

The lion in his pounce — or may bear on 

Four times a man's weight with a tread as soft 

As maid's upon the grass. So goes the task. 

This first is judged right fit : the next that comes 

Is shapelier, but at the touch of hand 

A wince shows ancient fear has broke to life, 

And that for war's work 's Satan. In a man 

It may be disciplined, but in a beast 

The demon stays. Thus one by one 

They're searched and chosen, and the tithe are 

Of the elect in body and in soul. 
Like choice with fellow-men would give you less 
Than one in ten. And now the work begins. 
First step : each eight are wonted to the man 
Who's to be master. Slowly, with bare hand 
He rubs each down. They love that gentle touch, 
And cleanliness it brings. Then each is fed 
From that same hand. A day or two of this, 
Then comes the harnessing. Slow piece by piece 
They make acquaintance with the gear, and find 
It goes with victual and that touch of hand 

Those Mules 37 

Telling their lord is near. Then two by two, 

And next in trains of six, they quickly learn 

Meaning of gee, haw, wok ; that 's swiftly done, 

For now they are expectant of new tricks 

And corn that pays them. After that, the bit — 

There is a crisis ; all the rest was play, 

Pleasant and helpful, but that iron thing 

'Gainst lips and teeth tells harder yet to come. 

But this point 's won as all else, by degrees. 

At first a bit of rope and then of wood, 

Until at end of week the mastering steel 

Slips into place. All these beginning steps 

Are done beside the wagons, and where teams 

Of fellow-mules are dragging on their loads 

As if they liked it. So there 's nothing strange 

About the business when they 're tackled to 

An empty wagon in a smooth, hard field ; 

And if it startles, there's the lord just by, 

With unchanged voice that telleth all is well. 

What else hath servant in this wondrous world 

So full of happenings ? So it is done : 

The wont is in their souls — all mastering trust 

In might of man : he is a stupid black, 

And yet that marvel, man : set over all — 

God's vice-gerent : dirty, but the lord — 

They 've not been broken, but made bridle wise — 

Wise in stout doing unalloyed with fear 

Of the unknown. Now they are forth to serve 

In the hard needs of battle, 'mid the roar 

^8 Those Mules 

Of wrestling hosts. The demon leaps on them 
In bursting shell, in stricken mate, but here 
Comes voice of master ruling them to peace, 
For he 's the master and they are his men, 
And that 's the end of it 


It is an evening when the harvest moon 

Rides up the eastern sky, to light us on 

The while we glean their last from noble fields — 

So would the Master, but his servant — man — 

Hath other use for fields, and here hath set 

Athwart the ways of peace, 'mid trampled corn, 

A war line 'gainst the South, waiting the stroke 

From a great host that swings within the dark 

Seeking the place to strike : as thunder cloud 

Explores the spaces ere its lightning smites 

The chosen mark for ruin. Now the scouts, 

Hard ridden, bring the word the foe has swayed 

Off to the east to try our weakest flank. 

Swift ride the aides, and swift in countermarch 

Go horse and foot back on the ways that lead 

To this new peril, till that peopled place 

Is once more silent as o'er-arching sky ; 

Save for a little group of men and guns, 

A battery that stood amid the host 

And with its warding had a castle's might 

To rule for miles about ; by some mischance 

Of hurried orders left here islanded 

In the deep sea of night, an easy prey 

To half a thousand horse sent from the dark 

Swarming around the cannon : and that deep 

40 A Midnight Venture 

Is lit with praying eyes that seek the way 

To profitable stroke. Yea, with the foe 

Are eager troops who know as never men 

To ride for such a prize. Here is a fix 

That needs wake soldier's sense in that lank youth 

Who stands there as the captain. Type of lads 

In the hard wrestle of the Civil War, 

Who 'fore their beards were grown and gristle set 

Were burthened with the cares to weigh down men 

Who Ve grizzled in the trade. What shall he do ? 

The way 's wide open, and as bugle call 

Will send his battery upon the run 

To join their vanished friends, surely the plan 

Was not to leave him thus helpless, alone, 

To be down-trodden by a midnight charge. 

Guns to an army are like crowns to kings, 

Not to be rendered to the foe for naught, 

But at hard-haggled price. Nay, but the boy 

Hath soldier's sense in him that answer makes 

To this heart's pleading : telling that his part 

Is to await command, and do his best 

By what comes 'fore the order. First he sends 

Swift to his general a plan that shows 

His place and peril ; then, that message sped 

By trusty courier, he mounts a score 

Of his best men and sends them two by two 

To scout the ways up to the foeman 's line, 

And bring swift message of a coming force ; 

One to ride straightway back to tell its start, 

A Midnight Venture 41 

The other wait until he counts the files ; 

Then seek his path across the open fields : 

Next sets the cannon so they sweep the road 

That leads straight south, broad, dusty, stone-paved way 

That glistens 'neath the moon, mid it two guns, 

And two to right and left upon each verge, 

So that the walls may shelter the bare flanks 

For time 'gainst charge of horse. All is not much, 

But in this dark these are the things to do, 

Giving him chance to win on to the day. 

Now comes the sorest burthen that a wight, 

With Fate's load on his shoulders, has to bear — 

That patient waiting for what night may send 

Forth from its mystery. Slow hour by hour 

The moon climbs up the spangled girt of heaven 

Until it tells 't is midnight from the top 

When it keystones the arch. The earth is still 

As unplumbed deep, save for a cricket's cry, 

Or those strange shadowy sounds of field and wood 

From the wild life. The men are all asleep, 

Wrapped in the trust the soldier gives to earth 

So soon he lays him on that mother's breast. 

Is that the thud of horse-hoofs ? Nay, a hare 

Has seen some lynx eyes glimmer, and its feet 

Thump hard the dry ground as it leaps away. 

Is that the clank of arms from coming host ? 

It is a partridge covey stirred from sleep 

Piping its call of danger. So the night 

Wears on in doubts and fears. Now comes true note 

42 A Midnight Venture 

In tramps of hard-spurred horse o'er yonder fields 
With steady swinging beat, with halt and plunge 
To clear the fences. Then the phantom shape 
Of eager scout, half glimpsed at first, then clear; 
And now before the captain halts the man 
To make his swift report. " Where is your mate ? " 
" They dropped him on the road." 

" How many came ? " 
" Three hundred men." 

" How far away ?" 

" Two miles, 
Their horse hoofs blanketed. They 're marching slow 
And still as ghosts. " 

" Where will they come on us ? " 
" By the wood road that falls into this pike 
Three hundred yards in front of where we stand." 
" You 've done good work, my man ; now to the rear, 
And if you find a troop on way to us, 
Bid them ride hard. There 's scant an hour's time 
Before the finish." Then to his lieutenants : 
" They know our fix, and plan to ride us down 
By a swift charge, but we will meet that trick. 
Have up the men and drill them at the guns, 
So they '11 be nimble when the moment 's here. 
No bugle call, but wake them one by one, 
And bid them keep it as a churchyard still. 
Put prolongs on the guns for slow retreat. 
I '11 to that patch of corn across the way, 
Down where the wood road enters on this pike. 

A Midnight Venture 43 

There I can watch them forming for the charge 
And see it launched. So soon they are away 
My pistol will give signal. Load and fire 
With double canister. Three rounds of that — 
The reloads by the muzzles. Then fall back 
A quarter to that rise. There turn two guns 
For sweep to right and left; so if they swing 
To flank us, they will have no chance to form. 
By that time I '11 be with you." 

" No, you '11 be 
Asleep by that time, for you '11 be in range 
Of eighteen double charges — gallon each — 
That 's twice ten thousand bullets down this road/' 
Well, count out twenty when you hear my shot — 
That will give plenty time to mount and skip. 
If I stay there and still they press, then go 
Lickety-split, straight back upon our lines. 
Use all the steadiest men for rear guard 
And turn the hindmost caisson at the bridge, 
And rig a slow match to it." 

" We '11 not need 
To scuttle out of here. We '11 send their charge 
In rags a-dancing twenty feet in air." 

Now is the captain hidden in the corn 
Close to the cross-road, looking for his life 
Into that sombre wood arch, seeing there 
The shades of legions, till there silent comes 
Out of the darkness more substantial shapes, 

44 A Midnight Venture 

Creeping like fog wreaths out into the way 
With footfalls muffled and with orders passed 
Whispered from man to man. Slowly it forms 
Back from the sentry still as thunderbolt 
Awaiting for the stroke. For half an hour — 
To him full half his life — the spectre grows, 
Until it is arranged. Then trumpeter 
Rises in stirrups, ready for the blast 
To send it onward waving in the charge. 
Now while our captain, with forefinger set 
Upon the trigger, draws his breath and holds 
For the first note of bugle, forth there rides 
A horseman from the front, who warily 
Creeps towards his foe, listens with leaned head, 
Then rides on till his shape is but a blur 
Upon the shadowy way. There halts again 
As if he saw grim death within that dark. 
Now he creeps back in silence to his front, 
Passing a whispered order. Then the host 
Breaks into files and slips out on the way 
Whereon it came, to vanish in the wood. 
And as he wonders comes a breath of air 
Out of the north that reads the mystery, 
For in it floats a sound as sobbing bell 
That far off rings a dirge : it is the note 
Of sponge-stafT slipping from the brazen throats 
Where his men make them ready for the work. 
This midnight drill told mischief to the man 
Who did the scouting ; bade him 'ware the trap 

A Midnight Venture 45 

He knew they 'd set for him : so it scotched 

The foemen's game to ride him straightway down ; 

His own, to blow their might to rags in air. 

Yet there is room for other ; yea, that host 

Daunted in front should try a better move I 

On byway that will bring them to the rear j 

Close by the hill he'd chosen to make a stand, 

When the first stroke was given. There he hies 

As swift as horse can take him. As he comes ( 

To scout that danger in the north, he hears 

A sound that swells each instant as a surge 

Trampling adown the shore. First faint and far 

As thunder from beyond the line of sky, — 

The quake of air felt not in ear but heart, — 

Then pulsing roar that mounts as does a flame 

In baffling wind, until it fills the vale. 

Now the glad echoes of a bugle ring, 

Shouting a league the help that surges on 

To hard-pressed brothers, clamouring to foes 

The mighty hunger of a host that ride 

With drawn swords at their hearts. Then by the flash 

From iron hoofs he sees the avant-guard 

Sway up the steep to sight, and now he swings 

On run beside their leader, tells the tale 

As on they spurring go right through the guns, 

In roaring charge with welcome in a cheer 

From men who Ve watched the night out for the like 

With other herald from their silent guns. 

Then on the trail of foe for miles away 

46 A Midnight Venture 

Searching the trodden path, to find at end 

The foemen had won back into their hold. 

So came the finish to this bit of war, 

In march and countermarch and mighty deeds 

That lacked naught but the doing — yet were done- 

In valiant reckoning ; and were as true 

As they were writ in heart's blood on the earth. 

After long years, again a tipsy chap 

Gabs to our captain of old days and deeds, 

Tells how when he was chosen for a scout, 

He had well braided in his horse's tail 

A plan of all our works, and how he bore 

Straight to the Rebels tale of where there hung 

Six good guns for the plucking ; how he led 

That host upon its errand, saw it turn 

Upon the edge of ruin. " We were smart, 

But you were derned sight smarter ; yet you missed 

The chance to catch us in the trap you set. 

'T was too well baited. If you 'd laid your men 

Watching beside your guns, you 'd had us, sure. 

We 'd had you for all that, upon the flank, 

But for those chaps who came in nick of time. 

They seemed ten thousand by the roar they made, 

All riding like the Devil on a spree — 

The very wind of 'em blew us away : 

And so you saved your guns. Next time you try 

To play that game, don't make the trick too fine, 

For then it 's sure to miss." 

A Midnight Venture 47 

Yea, Tipsy Jim, 
Your maundering wisdom 's good, and it may serve 
In warring past the sky ; but that is done 
We waged upon this earth. There was a slip 
In that fair reckoning, but who 'd have thought 
That sob of gun, mere whisper in the day, 
Would bay like watch-dog in the still of night ! 


There 's need of scouting, for the night is here, 
And not a word from all the men we 've sent 
Seeking for touch from what we know comes on 
Of flying columns waiting for a chance 
To a swift stroke. The leader does not sleep 
In this uncertainty, so straight he goes 
Alone to search the ways for ten miles out 
Where danger lurks. 

In the good light of sun 
A scout is best made with a force of men, 
For then there 's help in peril. But in night 
It needs be done alone, for, truth, you have 
But hide and horse to care for, you may run 
The where and when you will, with never thought 
Of friend you Ve left behind : or you may have 
At anything that looms up from the dark 
Barring your way. For in war's ugly world 
The else safe counts as foe. Some find it fearsome thus 
To search in shadows for the angel death. 
It has its dark side, yet 'tis not so black 
As waiting for that shape to leap on you 
In roar of whirling charge. Now he is forth 
On the Lord 's errand — on into the dark. 
It is a noble land, e'en in the night 
It matches with the sky. — 'Tis two o'clock ; 

East Tennesseeans 49 

The waning moon slips up, a sickle now, 

That hardly dims near stars, and yet it sends 

A ghost of day to show the low-arched hills, 

And here and there at cross-roads villages, 

All lifeless, silent as a place of graves, 

For in such time 't is best you seem as dead 

For fear of death to come. — In the wide roads, 

Hard trodden, white, where his keen eyes can see 

A furlong's length, he gallops on with care 

To keep the side path, where the hoof may fall 

Noiseless upon the clay, 'scaping the ring 

On the hard stone bed you may hear a mile, 

In night-time's stillness. 'Neath the over-arch 

Of the great woods, he slips on at a walk 

With drawn reins, bent neck, watching sentry's hail 

For wheel and scurry in the scanty time 

'Twixt shout and shot. — Yea, it is marvellous 

How peopled is the night with bustling things 

That are and are not. Now it is a fox 

On nightly foray ; now the thing he hunts 

That slips across the way. Now a raccoon 

Or lumbering opossum plies the trade 

Of chase or flight in immemorial war. 

They startle, for they live, and safety lies 

On his hard errand only with the dead. 

Each glimpse of light and shadow hath its ghosts 

That dance beneath the moon to vanish swift 

As he creeps up to them. But now there comes 

Under that arch of trees what seems a throng 

50 East Tennesseeans 

Of unranked men, who, as he nears, slip out 
Into the brushwood. He's so close to them, 
That if they 're foes 'twould be in vain to flee 
Thus at their muzzles. 'T was at least a score 
That sought that hiding ; half of that 's enough 
From ambush to lay down both man and horse. 
The game 's to chance it, spur right on their heels, 
That they may hold him herald of a host. 
Thus in a trice the rowels send him on 
So swift he fells the nearest, and they turn 
As hunted beasts at bay. Dark as it is, 
He knows they are not soldiers, but a throng 
Of motley country folk, who are not led, 
But drifting in the night. At his command 
They down their arms and yield them willingly, 
As if they welcomed master in their plight. 
Their tale 's soon told : they 're men from Tennessee, 
Searching the wilderness to find the flag 
'Neath which they 'd serve. For forty weary days 
They 'd hidden in the forests, tramped at night 
With pole-star for their guide. So on and on, 
Near naked, starved and footsore, they have crept 
By many a camp and march to find but foes 
Where they had hoped for friends, until they were 
As hopeless as e'er men upon a wreck, 
Drifting they knew not where. The voice he heard 
Out of the shadow told of valour still 
For all the quaver that starvation brings. 
"You 've got us, mister ; we '11 go right along ; 

East Tennesseeans 51 

There ain't no fight in us. A month ago 

You-uns would had a tussle 'fore we'd down. 

Give us one good, square meal, and you will find 

A right smart chance of it. You '11 haul us in, 

But damned if we are going for to fight 

Agin the Union flag." So they came on, 

As sorry lot as ever tramped behind 

A silent leader. Now the outposts halt, 

And word with the commander ; then the camp 

In early morn, and soon that good, square meal — 

Heart-staying bread and beans and coffee, too, 

That lights the soul of man. They look about, 

And find whereat to wonder. " Hello," cries one, 

You 've swapped your Rebel rags for Yankee clothes ; 

Guess you feel cleaner. See there, boys, — that chap 

Who fetched us in : he 's like the Union man 

Who led the raid at Holston ; guess he 's hooked 

That fellow's uniform. Damned if I see 

Just where we 're at. They 've left us with our guns. 

Been mighty perlite ; 't ain't the way of Rebs 

When they catch Union men." And now the sun 

And tap of reveille send up the flag. 

Wide-eyed they gaze upon it, wonderingly, 

As if the angel of the Lord had swept 

Down through the vault. And then the leap of heart 

Of men who thought them captives, who have found 

That they have won to freedom from their goal, 

And wild hurrah that hails their victory. 


The homes were swept ; there were no more recruits 

Save for good cash in hand, and they knew well 

Where cash was plenty and the bounties great 

For any two-legged thing. The battery. 

That needed six score, had but sixty men, 

For they leak out in war, some to the brush 

And some to mother earth. He must have men 

Or else a muster out. So when he heard 

There was a bunch of Georgians in " the pen M 

Made prisoners yesterday, who would enlist, 

His carnal hunger for recruits rose up 

And sorely tempted him. No, it won't do, 

He is a scoundrel who would change his flag ! 

The more he thought of it, the worse it seemed 

To have those rascals bargaining for a place 

That shamed the soldier's trade. His head was red, 

And in him fancy for high-sounding phrase; 

So he hies to the pen. — They are a lot 

Of that old English breed of Georgia's hills 

Such as he'd longed for; strapping, nimble chaps, 

To dance about great guns or whirl them back 

When the need comes ; some five and thirty men, 

Ragged and gaunt, to shape within a week 

To pretty fellows. He has speech in mind 

And it must out, so now he bids the troop 

The Georgians 53 

To sit upon the ground for his discourse. 

" You are our prisoners, and would enlist 
With us for service 'gainst the cause you swore 
To serve as men. You chose the traitors' part, 
As some good men have done, and now you seek 
To play deserters' part. You should be hanged." 
So on and on until his fume was spent. 
They listened patiently till he was done ; 
Then rose their leader, who had whiled the time 
Whittling a stick, spat his tobacco juice 
In manner of a geyser, and began : 

" Cap, that 'ar speech of yourn was mighty fine ; 
The trouble is that you don't know a thing 
Of what you 've talked about. We 're 'listed men 
Who 've sworn to fight with Rebels ? That ain't so ; 
They just charged in and tuck us : set us up 
In rows with other fellers ; gave us guns 
And packed us off to fight. We-uns have cussed 
A mighty lot, but we hain't never sworn 
To stay there where they sot us in them lines. 
Now see here, Cap, we-uns don't know a thing 
Of this damned war 'cept fellows have to fight, 
And this here crowd will do it where they find 
A show for wittles. We have been nigh starved 
For more 'n a year, perished almost to death. 
Six ears of corn on cob — it ain't enough 
To keep a mule alive." Here was a case 
For gentle casuistry. 'Hap 'twas true 
That these men were impressed and so had 'scaped 

54 The Georgians 

The binding oath of soldier and were free 
To stand in arms for us. Were they now held 
By service they 'd accepted though compelled 
At point of bayonet ? The schoolmen might 
Battle this point until the end of war, 
But here the scales were weighted. So he says : 
"You know, my men, what comes if you are caught — 
You '11 surely hang for it." 

" Reckon that 's so, 
If they get hold of us. We'll see to that — 
We '11 see that we ain't cotched." Where true men stand 
In sight of halter, they will dig their heels 
And bide where they have stood. They never think, 
As does the knave, to scuttle, but they stay 
With toes to line. So he enlists the lot, 
Sends them to quartermaster for the change 
From grey to blue, and sees them duly sworn 
For loyal duty. 

Next day comes the chance 
To show the quality of these recruits. 
The captain 's sitting making up accounts 
Close by his tent door, looking down the field 
Where the six guns are parked : at other end 
The calaboose, where " bucked and gagged " there lies 
An ugly Welshman : sober, a good man ; 
When drunk, as now, the devil. By him tramps 
A sleepy guard with sabre. On the side 
A Georgian whittling squats upon the ground. 
All 's well, and so our captain turns again 

The Georgians 55 

Back to his papers, till he hears a cry — 
" Look out ! " There comes the raging prisoner, 
Who 's slipped his bonds, snatched sabre from the guard, 
Charging across the field straight for a life, 
As thirsty tiger broken from his cage. 
In blessed peace you mizzle when a man 
Crazy or drunk has at you ; but in war 
You needs must see it through. Our captain takes 
Revolver from its holster ; tries right well 
To see that it is ready for the work ; 
Sets elbow on the table, lines the man, 
And waits for the last moment 'fore he '11 fire 
Straight at the fellow's head. A hundred yards 
With athlete takes ten seconds — tipsy chap 
Will need fifteen to do it ; so he has 
Full time for preparation and to think 
How nasty is his fix. He is to slay 
One of his men. Howe'er it comes about, 
It is a villain thing to do : it stays 
As smirch upon a name. But there is help. 
The Georgian takes it in, and with a leap 
Is launched upon the run. To left oblique 
Bent low and swift he smites the charging fool, 
So that he flies three paces through the air ; 
Then turns him face to earth, sits upon his neck, 
And whittles quietly. The pinioned knave 
Claws at the earth, until up comes the guard 
To lug him back to jail, a sobered wight, 
Nigh ready for his work. The Georgian squats 

56 The Georgians 

Once more and whittles, and the field 's once more 

The dull parade it was. The captain puts 

His pistol back in holster, takes his pen, 

And wrestles with accounts. He has not budged 

From off his camp-stool, yet he 's been away 

Beside a brother soldier who once lacked 

A blessed Georgian in a like sore need, 

So had to slay his man. A bitter tale, 

Yet a fair pendant to the one that 's told 

And so 'hap worth the telling. 

It 's a street 
Near by a camp, where lies a regiment 
Fresh from disaster ; glad of chance to creep 
Behind the sheltering forts. In that command 
There was a father and two likely sons, 
All of his brood. It was a frequent sight 
To see thus sire and sons ranged in a line, 
For that time stirred men's hearts. 'T was yesterday 
Both youths were slain ; slain in a foolish fight, 
For the brave leader, of the hapless kind 
That know not fear, see nothing but the foe, 
" See red " and charge right on, had lost his men 
In Balaklavan way, without receipt. 
Of such great poets sing, but common men 
Who give their life for service rage o'er it, 
Or sulk their work until that leader goes 
And comes another who digests brave fear 
And turns it into wisdom. The lone sire, 
Crazed with his grief, sees there across the way 

The Georgians $j 

His colonel, draws pistol, bids him 

Stand and take his punishment. The officer, 

As on parade, stands stock-still, while the man 

Sends his five shots at him. They all go wild. 

Revolvers are no good unless your nerves 

Are at their best, or when the muzzle 's set 

Plumb 'gainst the chap you want. The hapless man 

Sets to unsling his carbine. " Stop right there," 

Calls out the colonel. " You have had your chance." 

It is unslung, the cartridge charged, and now 

He lifts to fire. The ready pistol cracks, 

The shot goes through the head. The colonel 

Saunters along to camp as if he had 

Nothing upon his mind, yet he knows well 

That while it was a fair shot, fairly sent 

In a good knightly way, it rang the end 

Of his career as soldier. For the hulk 

That lies there in the gutter he cares naught ; 

He gave him chance to win : what would you more 

In the grim work of war ? 


You know the old war chariot ? Three abreast 
Its eager steeds; the jockey bending low ; 
To right and left the archers with their bows 
And ready javelins. You see it bound 
On scythe-armed wheels across the roaring pTain 
Reaping the harvest ; see it smite the line, 
Break through and turn — and fancy Trojan war 
Had Satan's splendour to our day unknown, 
When even slaughter 's smudged with commonplace, 
Its nobler shapes all gone. But come with me 
To nearby field, — nearby in time and place, 
And near to our sad hearts, — to see that where 
Is valiant death is splendour such as burns 
Beholders' very souls. You '11 know that, when, 
In the far happy days, war is forgot, 
Save for its vanished glory, men will turn 
Not to the Trojan legend, not to Gaul 
Of Caesar's fields or else of distant days, 
But to our age, the last to bear this woe 
Where valour rules vast engines and goes on 
With might into the gulf. 

The day is hot 
From the corn-ripening sun ; but hotter yet 
In loosed nether Hell of hard-fought field. 
Half league away the line, here the reserves 

The Battery 59 

That wait on need ; between, the ground that 's won, 
Strewn with the price of it. There in the front 
Throb on the cannon like a mighty drum 
Beating a tocsin, while the steadfast roar 
Of musketry sways as the trampling seas 
On far-off shore. Here it is peace; the men 
Are scattered on the grass, some writing home, 
Some cleaning arms or patching bits of gear, 
Most chewing cud of fancies such as come 
Jumbled into your wits when you wait on 
For death to beckon you unto your place, 
In his imperious way. A battery 
Stands ready in the road. The horses feed 
Out of their nose-bags, while the waiting men, 
Ready to leap to stations, snatch a meal 
From greasy haversacks. The officers 
Have made their last inspection, every bolt 
And bar and strap is searched, and now they stand 
Silent beside their steeds. They know the word 's 
With yon swift rider spurring o'er the field 
Straightway to them. They knew the need before 
In backward swaying of the cloud that tells 
Where our line yields its ground. Now he is here 
With swift command : " A run for it ! " he calls : 
They press us hard." Forward ! the bugle sings, 
And ere its notes have echo, horses leap 
Brave-hearted to the tugs, as if they knew 
The need that bade them on. It whirls away, 
That might of valour, six-score iron men 

60 The Battery 

And six-score steeds that share their masters* souls ; 

Rushing death's engines to the gates of death, 

All knit as one to slay that they may save 

The Lord's fair purposes. It spurns the earth, 

Beating to dust the fields, leaping the bounds 

Of fence and hedgerow. Still the riders check 

With hard-drawn rein their horses, that they save 

Their might for what 's to come — when half are down 

And half must do the task. On, straight on, 

We ride there with the captain on the flank 

Beside the aide who leads. — Three furlongs won, 

And we break forth upon the battled space 

Our lines have gained — thereon to meet the blast. 

First comes a shell from well-aimed gun, that stoops 

As pouncing hawk, and in its whirl of fire 

A man and horse have vanished : then the rain 

Of those swift unseen messengers, the shot 

Nipping now here, now there, a man or steed. 

All bend them low as those who face the storm 

Upon their way to saving when a ship 

Is cast away and hapless pleads for help. 

Swift fly the lashes on the faltering beasts 

And rowels are sent home in bloody flanks. 

The leaping wheels cut deep the field thick-strewn 

With dead and wounded ; those the bearers leave 

In keeping of the Lord, because past help 

Of all his ministers. There a dying lifts 

A hand to show he lives : but on, straight on, 

As merciless as thunderbolt that flies 

The Battery 6i 

Upon its errand, roars this might of war 

Over the hapless, dashing out the life 

That clung o'erlong to earth. They dare not swerve 

For Christ or brother, for their task 's to save 

The turn of instant scales ; a second's time 

Is nigh eternity in that high task. 

The helpless bow their heads, the wheels roar on — 

The summit 's won ; — the bugle flares, " Right wheel 

In battery ! " The nimble horses swing 

Swift to the call, but swifter yet the shot 

Held for the fatal moment smite half down. 

Yet with a leap the living rend them free 

From cumbering dead and whirl the guns about. 

Then in a trice they're turned upon the foe 

That swam the further slope ten rods away. 

'T is double canister. The guns rear up 

As forth they roar their murder, hurling earth 

And all upon it far into the air. 

Six rounds and all 's swept bare upon the front ; 

But on the flanks the riven host roars in, 

Heads low for bayonet work. To right and left 

They flood the sections, sweeping out the men 

Spiking the guns ; but now the centre turns 

Near muzzles on them : one hot blast to right 

And, with swift shift, like besom to the left, 

And they are blown out, rent by hurricane 

To bits and shreds that spatter down to earth, 

What once were men — good friends and foes alike, 

For in that mortal tussle there 's no choice 

62 The Battery 

'Twixt friend and foe. Yea, there we slay to save 
The Lord's fair purposes. Now the support 
Of infantry comes double-quick to stamp 
Into the earth what's left of the assault. 
They sweep on through the ruin with no pause 
Save for the stumble o'er the tangled heaps, 
Or lunge of bayonet and time to tread 
Hard down with one foot while you heave it out 
And set you for the next who scurries back 
With what is left to bear him. Then the whirr 
Of musketry that drifts on in the chase — 
And so the task is done. The line is saved, 
For the reserves are up to patch it out 
In a rude front as they find room for feet 
Upon the cumbered earth. 

Yea, it is done, 
That Satan's deed of splendour. Look about, 
And see what swath of harvest it has cut. 
'T is just five minutes since it breasted up 
The last hard steep and hurled it at the task. 
See there, the trail from furlong's length away 
Marked by the fallen men and steeds swift torn 
Out of their harness. All the men lie still 
As is the way of dead, or silent bleed 
Waiting good helper, be it angel death. 
But here and there a horse raves piteously 
In the blind way of beast who knows alone 
Of its hard agony. You 've heard that scream 
From wounded horse ? It is the sorest cry 

The Battery 63 

In this shamed earth of battle. Swift there forth 

Details to slay them, while the bearers go 

On jog trot to their task. Here by our side 

Lie quivering heaps, where horse and man are mixed 

With wrecks of carriages that bore the guns 

All splintered by the blast that swept the foe 

To right and left when centre section whirled 

For the last conquering stroke. Ay, 'tis done — 

The task for which it waited — like a sphere 

That hungers blindly through the frozen voids 

Until it finds the end in one vast stroke 

That fits His purposes and recreates 

With its own ruin. 

Look once more and see 
The old war chariot. Set it 'gainst this scene, 
And know thy time hath splendour to the eyes 
That have the sight for it ; splendour of men 
Who giants are to pigmies of old days — 
Who by their might will part them from this shame 
Of stricken fields. 


Once more it is the mad year sixty-two, 

When came the mightiest wrestle of the war 

That shook the earth. Bragg's host had rent our lines, 

And like a mighty sea swept onward north. 

The fringe of the vast surge had swept our wreck, 

Our rear guards, and our new lines like the sands 

Before the waves. Yet here and there they stood, 

Those shreds of armies, for a hopeless fight, 

Save for the hope to win a day, an hour 

Of time for preparation on the lines 

Where we must stay and hold. There in the rout 

That streamed on roads and by-ways to the town, 

Where we should turn to bay, there came a troop, 

Six-score recruits to be a battery 

Horsed for swift work along with cavalry. 

Some twenty more there were, but they've been lost 

The yesterday in fight — a mongrel lot, 

Ranging from saints to sinners. With them were 

Disbanded minstrel troops and knaves from jails ; 

For in our sorry need we could not leave 

Stout wight to play at checkers with his nose 

At prison window ; swift we had him out, 

And swiftly swore him in to serve the Lord 

In Lincoln's host. There were enough of saints, 

Of Cromwell's type, to shape the iron frame 

The Eager Muster 65 

So it would hold those rascals to their place. 

Chief of those masterful hail Austin Earle, 

First sergeant : first of men in manliness ; 

You little, scrawny chap from Tennessee, 

Slave-holder who had pondered it to end : 

Turned abolitionist and won you through 

Your way of battle, on for thirty years, 

Because you were the swiftest thing afoot 

In the hard smiting. T was a sight to see 

The tiger's leap with which you smote the fool 

Who had to learn a gentle, silent man 

With woman's face was sure and sudden death 

To mutineers. So with the help of saints, 

Who might seem sinners in this other day, 

To you who read these lines, that troop was shaped 

For stout men's duty when they came to seek 

In Cincinnati for the outer things 

That make a battery — guns, horses, gear, 

Munition, uniforms for ragged backs, 

And food for empty bellies. On they came 

With myriads like them, needing all but limbs 

And the stout hearts they bore, to make them fit 

For task to come. — They're ranked upon the street, 

And forth their captain goes to shape the plan 

He has to win those needs. There 's martial law, 

With good fist right to clutch what you would win 

So soon you have the order in your hand. 

And here 's a city with fair chance to find 

Now here, now there, the bits that may be shaped 

66 The Eager Muster 

To well-horsed battery. So straight he hies, 
Seeking Lew Wallace, finds him in his bath — 
The time is daybreak and the sentry 's dull — 
Makes short work of his story — 'tis well conned 
To have it brief. The general hears him through, 
Says : " We 've no guns ; we '11 muster in your men 
As infantry." Has answer, " No, you won't ; 
That is an old trick — they have had my word, 
I '11 burn their papers 'fore it comes to that." 

" You '11 take a dose for it." 

" But they '11 be burned 
Before I 'm tried. If you will give me chance, 
I '11 have a battery before night falls. 
The men are disciplined ; there is a score 
Who know the gunner's duty, for they 've served." 

" What do you want ? " 

" Impressment order good 
For all I need." 

" Hunt up my adjutant 
And write it out." Then, with the order signed, 
He 's forth, a despot with the might to seize 
Whatever comes to hand — men, horses, guns, 
So swift he finds them. 

The town 's a roar 
With teams that bear away its precious wares 
To 'scape from feared assault. He grabs two score 
Of horses fit for saddle, mounts on them 
His forty trustiest men, then with his force 
Sweeps streets to find the stoutest four-horse teams ; 

The Eager Muster 67 

Chooses of these some thirty ; 't is enough 
For men and guns. The amazed drivers go 
Willing to their new task ; the wagons stay 
Where they may chance to stand. Now for the guns. 
A trusty scout has found that in the shop 
Of Greenwood there are six napoleons 
With battery wagon, forge, and all, their gear, 
Ready to ship to Morton, then war lord 
Of Indiana, — governor in name, — 
Who ruled his commonwealth in Cromwell's way 
By being ever ready. So they 're forth, 
Horses, drivers, guards, to the factory yard. 
There stand the guns they 've dreamed of. What a trove ! 
Shining like gold, their frames of sturdy oak : 
The hard-knit fibre gleaming through the oil 
Like shafts of ancient spears. With pounce of hawk 
The men are on them as the men of Rome 
Upon the Sabine virgins, gently, swift, 
All ready for the run. There needs be halt 
To fit the toggles to the whifrletrees. 
For this the wondering smiths are levied on 
And set to work. The captain takes this time 
To seek out Master Greenwood for a word 
Of courtesy — at least to lift mere theft 
To highway robbery. Finds him with his men 
Busied with war-gear in its myriad shapes. 
" I Ve come, sir, for the guns that you have made, 
There's need of them." 

" They go by train this noon, 

68 The Eager Muster 

It 's all arranged." 

" They go by horse straight forth 
Out to the front ; by night they '11 be at work." 

" My lad, it can't be done." 

" It 's doing now. 
So soon your blacksmiths fit the toggles on 
We '11 forth with them. Here is the order signed 
That gives authority." He scans the paper well ; 
'T is brief, but clear ; giving its holder right 
To do his will between deep earth and sky. 

"It's robbery!" 

" It 's war, that hath its will 
With life and else. 'T is best you write 
Your protest 'gainst this wrong." The paper signed, 
The bugle calls the assembly and we 're forth 
To seek the ordnance office. We lack still 
Munition for the guns. They 're pretty things, 
But lack the saving grace. Now at the store 
Where guns are victualled there 's a host of men 
Wildly about like search : the needed work 
Of finding provender for twenty kinds 
Of small-arms and of cannon. He, the chief, 
Swears there is not a round to fit our bores 
In all his heaps. Here is a sorry fix: 
A battery in seeming ; not a charge 
Of shot or shell to fit it — worth no more 
Than stars in space for all the needs of war. 
In such a coil you guess hard — speculate 

The Eager Muster 69 

With the old gambler, Chance. So now the lad, 

Thus foiled by fate, guesses that he may find 

The needed ammunition on the trains 

That throng the railway yards, for in that time 

The earth was sown with it. So forth he leads 

His empty splendour on his vagrant quest. 

Cars, endless cars, some thousands more or less, 

And trainmen striving hard to send them on — 

'T is needle in a haystack of a search, 

And yet there is a chance in seeking out 

Those sent from arsenals. Now in a trice 

A score of axes play upon locked doors ; 

The goods are tumbled forth. Here 's one that *s filled 

With boxes marked as " twelve-pounder howitzer." 

The hit 's a miss, and yet the train-yards yield 

None nearer to the quest. What can be done? — 

Here you should know that in the howitzer — 

A mongrel cannon — there 's a chamber cut 

At base of bore and half the width of it, 

Wherein the cartridge fits. 'T is half the charge 

Of powder needed for napoleons : 

And what is worse, the fuse will fail to send 

Its fire to the charge. So while the shot, 

The shell, and shrapnel, and the canister 

Have a like shape for both, the difference 

Is all that needs be for the devil's task 

Of shaping failure as reward for toil. 

Yet there's a way out Satan has not blocked: 

jo The Eager Muster 

And so the captain fills the boxes full, 
Heaps limbers, cannon, battery wagon, forge ; 
Stows sundry tons on wagons nabbed nearby, 
And makes all ready for a quick march south : 
Then hies him to a shop where he may find 
Bolts of red flannel fit for cartridge bags. 
A dozen of these bolts, with needles, thread, 
And thimbles, finish out an ample store. 
Then for the march. — The men upon the guns 
Are tailor-like at task of doubling up 
The bags of powder, putting two in one. 
'T is dabster work, and yet it serves the need ; 
The guns won't mind the fashion, so they have 
A full gorge in their bellies; nor the shot 
Question the cartridge's shape, if it but give 
Hell's breath to hurl it hard upon its way. 

'T was sundown when we crossed the pontoon bridge 
And found swift chance out to the waiting lines, 
Where guns were angels, few and far between, 
And welcome as those visitants from sky. 
That night we had a dance beside our guns 
Beneath the moon — a nimble minuet 
'Twixt limber and the piece : all to the tune 
That number one played for us with the beat 
Of rammer and of sponge-staff. It was day 
Before the frolic ended. 

Nothing 's told 

The Eager Muster 71 

In all this tale but trifles ? Yea, there 's hid 
Beneath the heap good bit for history, 
Better than most she garners. 'T is that men, 
Plain men, trained in the blessed work of peace, 
Are soldiers in their hearts, and have the way, 
The Caesar's way, of straight on to their end. 


Now it 's the rear of that defeat, Bull Run, — 
Not first, but second : first was folly, this 
Was mighty near to shame. Under the cloud 
Of powder smoke, reserves were streaming in 
To stay disaster. 

Nearby is a field, 
Where early in the fight the surgeons set 
The tables for their task. Now we 're forced back ; 
They 've been moved northward, and the place is cleared 
Save for the hopeless and for those who Ve found 
Fair hope beyond the bar. Just then I greet 
A sometime schoolmate : dearest of galoots, 
Who being fledgling parson found his place 
In the field hospitals. Of old — 'tis true 
But two years gone, and yet so far away — 
The dear galoot had fancy that a man, 
Even the priestly, should " observe " always 
As naturalist : at all times seeking facts 
In this vast thinginess of everything. 
We knew the Lord had shaped him for pure faith 
And not for sceptic's work, that cuts and pares 
Down to the heart of earth ; but he kept on 
Observing this and that in mole-like way. 
'T was plain he had served well — from head to foot 
He bore the marks of it — in dust and blood, 

The Observant Man 73 

Patches of lint and pockets bulging out 

With tourniquets and bandages. 'T was clear 

He 'd done Christ's work of help with soul and hands. 

This I said to him, moved by nobility 

That shone right through his grime. For answer had : 

I have observed a curious fact : this is, 

That of the wounded brought for surgeon's aid 

Just eighty-nine per cent, of them are hit 

In arms or legs ; that leaves but eleven 

For head and body hits. Measuring, I find 

That the proportion of the trunk and head 

To rest of man is about six to ten. 

My observation 's made on many fields 

And on some thousand wounded, so it 's plain 

This discrepancy shows some natural law : 

It seems past finding out." Yea, it was plain — 

The " natural law " of it : it is that wits 

Are yet more discrepant. That man may be 

Saviour of men, cap of nobility, 

Yet drown at once in those poor shallow deeps 

The naturalist explores. 


You think that war is weighty ; that its deeds 
Are ever done with that Olympian front 
Of Bonaparte in battle, which you know 
In text and picture ? Half of it is farce, 
And half the rest low comedy, as fits 
This comic creature man. 

The scene 's a field 
Whereon a hard-marched thousand sits to hold 
A ford against the crossing of their foe. 
They 're hot about it, clearing for the fight 
The barns and trees that block the way of shot; 
Setting the cannon so the wheels stay firm 
In the fierce leaps they '11 make ; digging the pits 
To serve for shelter, and in time for graves ; 
Scouting for place where surgeons may set up 
The tables for their work so they may be 
Out of the sweep of fire, and yet near by. 
The leader of the force rides hard to see, 
Now here now there to need, for he must count 
On scant an hour for all. On further bank 
The storm is shaping, and the foemen scouts 
Send now and then a shot and take like hail 
From our own outposts. Now the worst is by ; 
The men are in the ranks to wait what comes 
With house set well in order. 

Madame B/s Review j$ 

What is there 
Upon the road where rises nearby hill ? 
Ramshackle coach, the Southern kind, that serves 
For hen-roost till it 's needed to give state 
To some forth going ; negro on the box : 
Within a stately dame. It 's bad to have 
Your foe upon your flank ; it's something worse 
To find a woman thus upon your rear. 
So swift an aide is sent to bid her go 
About her business ; but he hies back 
With word 't is Madame B., with message stern 
To the commander, in demand that he 
Hear her complaint. He knew well Madame B. 
Some five years back, when he was but a lad — 
The relict of a famous general, 
An ancient splendour ; sample of the dames 
Who ruled the South of old, and shaped a court 
In any cabin where they dwelt. Right masterful 
Were those great mistresses ; and so he jumps 
To do her bidding as the only way 
To have her off the field. He makes his bow 
To saddle-bow, and is right glad to see 
He is to her a stranger, who's to have 
Short shrift of courtesy. " Are you the man 
In charge of all this gang?" 

" Madam, I am 
Commander of this force. What would you have ? M 
" A gentleman to right a woman's wrong, 
If there is such about." 

76 Madame B.'s Review 

" Madam, I trust 
There 's one here at your service. What is it ? " 
" An insult to my daughter by a hound 
Who wears your uniform. " 

" What did he do ? " 
" He called to fellow-stragglers as they passed, 
c There is a darned secesh.' " 

" That is too bad, 
And if I had the knave, I 'd have him gagged 
And bucked until he 'd keep a civil tongue ; 
But how are we to find him ? " 

" Sir, I 'm here 
To seek that scoundrel. " 

" But, ma'am, we are now 
With battle on us : just beyond the stream 
The enemy are massed. You see their scouts ; 
They Ve changed shots with our men." 

" Sir, I am 
A soldier's widow and a soldier's child. 
I don't mind that : I 'm here to find that hound 
And have him beaten. I will stay for that 
Until it 's done." Here was a pretty fix — 
A grand dame who 'd face battle for her right 
Of justice at his hands. Should he refuse 
To heed her plea and pack her off the field, 
She'd win the game, have one more monstrous tale 
Of our iniquity. So now he tries 
Again a counter. " Madam, will you go 
With me along the line ; inspect the men ? 

Madame B.'s Review jj 

It is the only way." Sure this will turn 

The woman from her purpose. Answer comes 

Pat on the question : "I am here for that ; 

I thank you for the favour ; yes, you know 

What 's due a woman." He is in for it. 

He orders to have all the men in place, 

With word a mother claims that one of them 

Has wronged her daughter, that she dares the risk 

In search for justice. They must bear them well 

To clear them from this shame. 

All is prepared ; 
The men are ranked ; the roll-call had ; the absentees 
Accounted for. And now she takes his arm, 
Goes slowly down the front — five hundred men — 
Scanning each face; and then 'twixt open ranks, 
Searching along the rear. The chaps behave 
As angels in the trial : eyes to front 
And faces set as those of monuments, 
With not one quirk or giggle from the host. 
Yea, it was strangely solemn, this parade 
With aged mistress, soldier in her heart, 
Searching a thousand on the eve of fight, 
To find the knave who 'd wronged her. — War is rich 
In oddest happenings, for then the world 
Is topsy-turvied, yet since swords were swung 
Was never chance like this. — Now wearily 
At the last man, she says : cc He is not here." 
And he to her : " Madam, the roll-call had, 
When you began the search, showed all were here, 

78 Madame B.'s Review 

Save those on sick-leaves. Will you read the lists ? " 
" Sir, you are an officer ; I '11 take your word, 
Your men are soldiers. I am grieved to find 
That I have wronged them. Ah, there was a time 
I loved that flag ; loved every man that stood 
Beneath its folds. It all comes back to me — 
That happy day that 's dead." She 's in her coach — 
Makes her adieux as grand dame, passes on, 
While we go back to dirty business. 



If you knew Gordon Grainger, you 'd a chance 

To know a soldier : every inch of him 

Wrought on war's anvil by the hammer's stroke — 

Indians and Mexico; second dragoons: 

Hard schools for modest virtues, but they brought 

Whate'er there was of Caesar right to front. 

He saved at Chickamauga what there came 

Ashore from that wild wreck, and held it safe 

Until we shaped of it again good ships 

To breast that dooming sea. He did that task 

Under the master, Thomas. Grainger was 

Of the good second order : not the first 

Who have the whole of Caesar. For a day — 

To stop a gap — I served upon his staff"; 

Had then the chance to see the easy way 

Of the war masters : how a thunderclap 

Was no more to them than the buzz of fly. 

Hard day in that hard year of sixty-two, 

In midst of hot campaign, we 'd stopped to feed 

Ourselves and horses at a cross-road's inn, 

Headquarters for the nonce. We'd had our fill 

Of what there was of food, and waited on — 

Our heels upon the table so they'd cool — 

80 The General's Yarn 

For cattle who won't learn that they should bolt 
Their provender in man's way. In the next room 
The telegraph was ticking, for we 'd tapped 
A nearby line to have the news from front. 
As was his wont the general spun a yarn, — 
'Twas tedious stuff; about some frontier post, 
Women and whiskey, cards and Indians, — 
We listened as was fit : the old chaps know 
That 's the aide's business. I noted for a time 
He seemed to listen while he talked, and then — 
The tale kept up the while — he took his pad, 
Wrote leisurely upon it, becked orderly, 
And gave it to him, then spun on his yarn 
At somewhat better speed. Soon hustled in 
The operator with despatch. The general looked 
Indifferently upon it and spun on. 
He gave it me : it told the enemy 
Was breaking through our lines three miles away. 
I passed it to the next, and so it went 
Its circle round the board. But no one spoke, 
For we knew better, till at last a lad 
New come upon the staff and still right fresh 
Cried out : " Why, general, what are we to do ? " 
" Shut up, my lad : I did that business 
Some time ago, don't interrupt me when 
I'm in a story. I was saying she " — 
So on again until that weary tale 
Was told out to the end. Then, horses done, 
We 're forth to see how fares that sore-pressed line. 

The General's Yarn 8i 

It was all right ; he 'd met the need as well 

As if he 'd swung his sword and charged right there 

In the tin soldier's way. I asked him how 

He did the trick. " When I began my trade 

The telegraph was new : I saw the chance 

That somewhere in my work it might save time 

To read the ticking : so I practised it 

At frontier posts when I had plenty time. 

You saw just now the use : it saved for us 

About six minutes in a pinch ; that counts 

Half mile with infantry ; with horse a mile ; 

Besides the blunders operators make 

When they 're scared blue, as generally they are, 

With Hell to pay." 


Again 't is Gordon Grainger, and a boy 

Who ran a battery — when Johnny Reb 

Didn't run him — as usual. Order came 

To be at certain cross-roads just at noon. 

This boy, dubbed captain, was right sure it meant 

To get there " lickety split," but it was plain 

As words could make it. So he piked along, 

On roads he knew, so fast that his support 

Of mounted infantry was ravelled out 

For five miles on the way. Now he 's come 

Within a mile of it and there 's an hour 

Of time to spare, and so he halts, to blow 

His winded horses, has their nosebags on 

For munch of forage, while the haversacks 

Are ransacked by the men, for Lord knows when 

Comes the next chance to feed. The halt gives time 

For swift inspection, so the lieutenants 

Are hard about it, seeing that each bolt, 

Spoke, pole, and bit of harness, all the gear 

Of limber trays are just as they should be 

For business that waits. Half-past eleven, 

Support is up and shaped ; artificers 

Done with their jobs; battery-wagon, forge, 

Packed for the march : and now they wait at ease 

The Order 83 

For lapse of twenty minutes ; when they '11 go 
On trot for that last mile. 

Up Grainger comes — 
His staff about him — with the careless look 
That in his sort shows that he 's full of care 
For what's to come. He sees the battery there 
Loitering beside the way. Then with a jump 
He is upon the captain, pouring fire 
Right sulphurous upon his hapless head. 
It now is clear enough his order meant 
Go there with whip and spur. He set the time 
For shortest possible. The captain waits 
Till the volcanic burst has "blown it out, 
Salutes, and hands the order back to him. 
" While that stands I '11 be there at noon exact ; 
I took headquarters' time." The old man reads, 
Looks kindly on the boy. Then lifting up 
His trumpet note so all should hear who heard 
The other blast : " I took you for damned fool ; 
I am that fool myself. The order 's changed ; 
Eleven forty is the time you '11 be 
Astride that cross-roads." 

Ra-ta, Ra-ta-ta ; 
A rush of heels and hoofs and it is done — 
This telling trifle of the ways of men 
When the true soldier leads them. 


It 's on the Rappahannock, New Year's Eve. 

The lines are nigh together, and the stream 

That parts them is ice-bridged : so the hosts 

Can be right neighbourly when they 've the mind 

For kindly capers, such as fit the time 

When men's hearts forth to home. It 's late at night 

In the well-ordered camp of Federals ; 

Tattoo 's long sounded and all lights are out — 

So says the army Bible. But right here 

In middle of the camp, a mess-tent 's lit 

And fiddle tells a shindy : though grand rounds 

Goes by a-grinning, and first sergeants know 

But night and silence there. The uproar goes 

Beyond the reckoning — to general's tent. 

No martinet, but careful of his camp, 

He 's up and forth to find what it all means. 

Now at that mess-tent door he gapes and stares, 

Finding the queerest frolic. There they sit, 

Alternate blues and greys : Johnnies and Yanks, 

In friendliest of converse. He knows well 

The simple gamut of the soldier's sins, 

And has fit phrase for each : but what to do 

When your men mix up with the other side 

In midnight revelry ? — Trying to shape 

His wits for action, he is there espied. 

The New Year's Toast 85 

" Come right in, general, have a glass of beer ; 

Johnnies, this is our leader : he's a brick — 

You Ve seen him 'cross some fields, and now 's the chance 

To know him better. General, these here men 

From Old Virginia had us over there 

On Christmas Eve for supper. They have come 

For New Year's night with us. We will watch out 

This damned old year that 's going, and we '11 drink 

To better that 's to come, when we may have 

One right good tussle that will settle it, 

So we may jump for home — and we '11 jump smart. 

It 's on the tick of twelve, so we '11 fill up. 

Here's to Marse Lee and Lincoln, — here's to chaps 

Who 've done their job ; here 's to the lot who '11 do 

The rest of it ; here 's to Americans, 

Whichever side they 're on ; here 's to the day 

When we won't have to sneak off in the night 

To tell a neighbour that a man was made 

For home consumption, not to fill up Hell." 

And they all drank that toast — the general, too. 


The scene is on the line where, by their arms, 
Our men lie sleeping, weary of a day 
Hard fought, hard ended, where September's sun 
Crept forth beyond the arch of ravaged earth. 
Up climbs the harvest moon, content and still, 
Recking no more than other dead of woe 
That shames the field it lights. There silently 
Paces the captain, for his time of watch 
The warder of the host ; while here and there 
On front and flanks and rear the pickets stand, 
Scanning the mystery of fearful night. 
Half league away across the trampled fields, 
Dotted with sleepers who await the Lord, 
The foemen line, with other faithful guards 
Who scan like dark. Now from the rear 
There comes the shout of sleepy sentinel 
Who hails a train, slow creeping from the wood — 
Women and aged men who bear their dead, 
Gleaned from the field we reaped but yesterday, 
Unto the nearby churchyards, or where lie 
Their kindred by the thresholds, in the way 
The Southerns grave their folk. Unto that hail 
Our captain hastens, sees the woeful throng 
Mute by the biers laid 'neath the forest arch 
Upon the moon-flecked grass. It needs no words 

The Smugglers 87 

To tell the tale ; the story is as old 

As man's hard dealing with his fellow man 

In the great game they Ve played upon earth's fields 

'Neath sun and moon, since sun and moon gave light 

To show them how to slay. Why halt them there ? 

They bear the dead : grim passport on all ways, 

Even those trod by war. Yea, but the man 

Who treads the paths of war must doubt the Lord 

And question e'en His message. In his trade 

The neighbour 's ever villain, never safe 

Until his life 's out. So our captain kneels 

Beside each swathed shape and searches well 

To make sure what it holds. First is a face, 

A dear boy's face, the glory of its morn 

Still shining in the night. The next a man's, 

Grizzled but strong, the face the boy's had been 

With two-score noble years set on its shape. 

And then the common lot of battled fields, 

So of the very earth they scarce need graves 

More than the wild beasts, who creep back to dust 

As best they may, swathed by the wind and rain ; 

And now the last, well coffined, as it held 

One of the better sort: the lid fast closed 

Made ready for the grave. The captain calls 

The sentry to him ; bids him break the seal 

With ready bayonet; turns back the cloth 

Shaped as to hide a corse, to find his quest, 

The trick of war masked in this garb of woe — 

Great store of surgeon's gear ; the keen-edged knives 

88 The Smugglers 

That mock best-tempered swords ; the saws to rend 

Poor shattered limbs apart ; the tourniquets 

To stay the life tide ; other fearful things 

That look like demon's engines, yet contrived 

For mercy's fairest task ; and further store 

Of those great wonders that bid torment end 

In blessed sleep, or in the fevered blood 

Win 'gainst the unseen hosts that bid men die. 

Slow, bit by bit, he lays them on the grass, 

Searching as if to find if there be hid 

A written word in all. Then carefully 

Puts back each package, closes down the lid, 

Waves the procession on, and with it goes 

To where the bugle calls the enemy 

For moment's truce and fair way for his dead. 

There watches as the silent train creeps on 

Unto its welcome past the shadowed field. 

And with its passing enters to his soul 

On that hard questioning of honest man 

For deed that scents of shame. He knows full well 

He is by law a traitor, for he 's given 

Help to the foe to meet war's sorest need — 

Help that will stay his line, send many a man 

Back to the front who else had surely gone 

Unto the grave or cumbered with his life. 

How came he to it? But an hour ago 

His anger would have smote his nearest friend 

Who bade him do it. Yea, there came to him 

A moment's vision of the mighty woe 

The Smugglers 89 

That bided with his fellows — fevered men. 

Who waste out day by day until they fall 

Like leaves into the ditch — mere mangled shapes 

That patient, hopeless surgeons strive to mend, 

Yet fail for lack of tools to ply their trade. 

So true heart rose above the written law 

And hearkened to the Lord. Yea, that Lord's help 

Is with him still as forth he goes to seek 

The general of the host and give report 

In the brief soldier's way : " Why was that truce ? " 

" To have way for the dead their kindred bore 

South through the rebel line." 

"You had them searched?" 
" I searched them through. Six coffins held their dead, 
The seventh, surgeons' outfits and supplies 
To serve their hospitals in this campaign." 
"Where is that precious coffin ? " 

"It's gone on 
Into the Rebel lines. I saw it safe 
Within their outposts. Surely by this time 
It warms their doctors' hearts and stills the men 
Who lie upon the tables, for we hear 
No more their torment." Then there comes a pause, 
While that grim soldier like a mother looked 
Upon the youth before him, then away. 
" You know the price of it ? " 

" Yea, that is clear : 
'T is what some know as death and some as shame, 
A man betimes must take to serve his God." 


A Texan's stories now. An ancient chap 

That I had cottoned to upon the trail . 

In western Colorado at a time 

When Utes were on the war-path and 't was well 

You rode beside a man. He was one-eyed : 

A wipe of splintered shell had done the job, 

As I found afterwards. But the one that stayed 

Had light for more than two. It made me think 

We 'd better kept old Cyclops in our shape 

As we once had a chance to. When we met, 

He had his Winchester 'cross saddle-bow 

As he rode lazily. To give him hail 

I said: "Good-morning, stranger; looking out 

For trail of Indians ? " 

" Straanger," said he, 
" I hain't lost nary Injun from my lot." 
At first he was quite offish, till he found 
We 'd both known certain places in old times 
Where it was hot — and then we were quick friends, 
For all he 'd been a " Reb " and I a "Yank." 
That didn't matter; we rode now as men 
Who something knew of earth and its queer ways. 
The talk turned to the war, and when 't was ripe 
I asked my question : " What stays with you still 
Of nights and Sundays when you are alone ? " 

Jim's Pardner's Tales 91 

For I was ever curious to find 

What 's printed deep in ancient soldier's brain. 

Such tales are ever telling, and they have 

For prying wits their value as bare facts 

That help make up account of what is man. 

" I '11 tell you, neighbour, there ain't much that stays, 

Most seems all blurred, — sometimes there comes the look 

Of a dear boy, — though I 've forgot his name, — 

Who tried to give me his last message home, 

But skipped before he did. They 're only two — 

Two of a thousand like 'em I 'd have bet 

I 'd keep for all my life. I '11 tell you those. 

They are n't much, and I wonder why they stay 

As clear as yonder mountain, while the best, 

Lots more worth telling, where I 've been mixed up 

With right hard fighting, where I 've come by holes 

That ache right smart, are like a pardner's yarns, 

Half misremembered and the rest all lies. 

I '11 tell you first of Gettysburg ; the other 

Is clear off in the sky, and I don't see 

Just how to get it back. 

I was sent out 
With six guns and a bunch of cavalry 
In Pickett's charge, to stop halfway and hold, 
If they were licked back and might need some help,, 
I 've seen a lot of charging — that beat all : 
Those chaps had glory in them, and they went 
As if straight for the sky; as we rode on 
In column by them, swift they danced away 

92 Jim's Pardner's Tales 

As if we were corralled. They knew our part 

And joked at it : c You '11 never catch us here. 

Come on in half an hour, and you '11 have 

Share in the finish/ We knew mighty well 

We 'd staked it all on them. — Halfway came our place, 

That hole where we 'd suck thumbs and see our mates 

Right in the game. Lord sakes, how they went on 

Under that sky of shells from hundred guns 

Our side sent 'gainst yon line and in the play 

Of more than that. Before we thought it hot, 

For men dropped one a second, now 't was Hell, 

Hard mile of it, straight on. First 'twas the guns 

That did the work, and yet we saw it shrink ; 

Now with the musketry it crinkled up 

Like paper in the fire. But it went on 

True shot to aim, — a tenth of those who roared 

As they ran by us hit, the rest lay there 

In that wide swath, — and yet it broke right through. 

We saw the gap wide open, then it shut ; 

A bit of racket past it, and 't was still 

As if there 'd been no battle. Half an hour 

We waited like the dead : knew mighty well 

It was the end of it — the end of all 

That made life worth the living. — Soon there came 

An aide to call us back ; 't was but two miles, 

But 't was the hardest march that I have done 

Or shall do in this world." 

While we rode on, 
I saw him wipe his one eye on his sleeve. 

Jim's Pardner's Tales 93 

For long time he was still, searching the trail 

And what lay 'twixt us and the next divide. 

Then in another voice that told the man 

Had organ stops in him : "I '11 tell you now 

A story that ain't much and 's hard to tell : 

We Texans were the vanguard in the march 

For the South Mountain fight in Maryland — 

You 'd call it Antietam, or some such name. 

We were hard looking as we 'd come from Hell. 

Boys often wondered how it was that we — 

Most pretty decent fellows, true to friends, 

To sweethearts, and to wives, who 'd slit the throat 

Of any right mean cuss — looked Satan's own. 

Some reckoned 't was the way we cut our hair, 

Or rather did n't, for there warn't no shears 

In all our troop ; I give it up, it seemed 

The Lord had made us so. And we went on 

With heads hung down, as if each felt the rope 

Ready for hanging, till we saw behind 

There rode right nigh to us our General Lee. 

We all together shouted he should go 

And ride then in our front, to show them all 

We warn't the lot we looked ; so there he went. 

And then the women and the children came 

Out to the road, laughed, waved hands, brought us flowers. 

They now were glad to see us — not a one 

Knew who he was. They saw he was a man 

Such as the Lord sends when He has a job 

For men to do. The queerest thing of all, 

94 J IM ' S Pardner's Tales 

He was n't there ten minutes Yore I saw 
Something was happening to us : we were changed ; 
We warn't the same lot. When he rode away, 
We did n't scare the women folks no more. 
That set me thinkin' hard — I ain't done yet, 
Though it 's a while ago — of what it meant. 
I see now it was Christ who rode with us, 
Once more a man that we called c Marse Lee.' 
You 've seen him ? " 

" Who do you mean ? " 

" Marse Lee." 

" Yes, as a boy, as boy sees such a man, 
Far off and shy." 

<c So I did then, and knew 
I 'd waited all my life to see a man 
Built clean from heels to head, six feet of him ; 
And in his face a look that went away 
Right through your soul and straight on to the sky. 
I saw him often after that; sometimes 
He was plain old Bob Lee, with not a bit 
That did that miracle. I saw him when 
At Gettysburg we came in bringing back 
Our hulking misery. You 've heard men cry, 
A thousand all at once? " 

" I never did." 

" Then don't : it is the durn'dest thing on earth. 
At first it 's mighty funny, then it goes 
Right through you like a knife ; it tears your heart 
And shakes you in your shoes ; but as we looked 

Jim's Pardner's Tales 95 

On him, our ache died out, and this hard trail 

Seemed pretty well again. Our Old Jack had 

Something the same, but 't was so tangled up 

With his darned smartness that it did n't go 

Right home to you ; and Jubal Early, too, 

That half-cracked cuss, when he was swearing mad, 

As generally he was, would bring his soul 

To snubbing-post and look off in that way ; 

You would n't mind it 'less you 'd seen it shine 

On Marse Lee. You 've watched your men come up 

Under hot fire. If your own soul is cinched, 

You '11 see between the c close ups ' here and there 

A chap who has it, and you know you '11 win, 

For with him goes the Lord." 

Here came a pause 
On this strange preachment. Back was he to earth. 
He bored it with his eye as diamond drill 
Cuts to the hidden mysteries of stone, 
Volcanic, frozen ; that had kept its black 
Against the bleaching sun as it would hold 
The night from whence it came. " Here mought be 

bucks : 
They used to make for it when they are out ; 
There ain't no signs as yet. — Neighbour, you 've heard 
The parsons tell how by and by our Christ, 
Who 's been on some far trail since He was here, 
Will swoop right down from sky. That ain't the truth, 
He 's kept a coming thousand times a day 
To find a shape that fits him ; that He fits 

g6 Jim's Pardner's Tales 

For the soul's need that wears it. 
And when He isn't in a man, He's here 
In what looks like a man until you find 
It 's not just that, but is a bigger thing 
Than ever man was. You have seen how they 
Have set Him up in pictures; make Him sad 
And sorry looking, — dyspeptic tenderfoot, — 
Like lungers from the East. Mebbe He comes 
Sometimes like that, but when He comes to me, 
He 's six feet high, built from the heels right up, 
With look that goes straight through me to the sky. 
He was that when He first came ; that I know, 
For He licked all them traders with one hand, 
Whacking that black snake whip upon their backs 
When He cleaned out the temple. 'T warn't no job 
For lungers and the like. You know how He 
Rounded St. Peter to the snubbing-post 
And broke him to the service of the Lord. 
No cripple done that, but a great, whole man, 
That could have led an army right straight in 
And licked the Devil out. How does He look 
When He comes down to you? " I had to say 
He did not come to me in such clear shape, 
But was too dim for seeing. " That 's right hard ; 
How have you scuffed along without His help ? 
Next time you 're in a fix, look up and see 
Him standing on nigh hill; at first He'll seem 
No bigger than you are; but look and look, 
And He will grow and grow until this world 

■■ ■■ I I ■ ■■■ 

Jim's Pardner's Tales 97 

Is nothing but His glory and poor you. 
Keep looking, and you '11 find that you, too, are 
Only a part of Him, — and then this trail — 
Don't care how hard it is — seems for a while 
Right easy going. — Gee whiz ! What is that ? " 
Now went the day-star's splendour from his eye, 
And in its place came glare of beast at bay. 

" It's there, behind those rocks half mile away." 

" But I don't see a thing," said I. 

" That 's it," said he, 

" We don't see nothing, but there 's something there 
As plain as yonder sun. Those magpies know 
That thar is something hid. They are sich fools 
They '11 make the same fuss for jack rabbit's dance 
As for a dozen Injuns. Mebbe coyotes 
Have downed an antelope, — mebbe this and that. 
We '11 squat and wait awhile and see what comes — 
No, we '11 ride back a piece and cache our nags, 
Then slip one side and peek. Mebbe they '11 think 
That we 've cut sticks, if so, they '11 soon show up." 

Just over the divide we found a place 
To hide our horses : bellywise crept back 
To where the sagebush and some stones gave chance 
To peek right cleverly. " They don't take bait, 
They know it is a trick. Well, trick for trick 
We '11 match 'em out. — See here, Pard, — 
I '11 call you Pardner, though I swore last week 
I 'd never have another till I 'd slit 

98 Jim's Pardner's Tales 

The last of Injun's throats, — we 're in for it. 

If they were coyotes, they 'd have had their fill 

And loped for the divide ; like other scamps, 

A coyote thinks he 's better if he 's there 

Where now he is n't. Jack rabbits would light out 

In half an hour. Just there they killed my Jim — 

The best of all the pards I ever had — 

A week ago. He got but two of 'em — 

A mighty poor receipt for such a chap. 

I can't half sleep of nights — no more can Jim — 

Because he got so little in that game. 

I just was moseying back when we met up, 

For chance they 'd call again. I Ve scouted round 

For hope of that. I know it like a book, 

A nice snug place to hide — good holes in rocks, 

A little spring, made for their deviltry. 

But they don't know there is a place just there, 

Four hundred yards away, behind those rocks, 

Where I can hide and clean out all those holes 

With a good rest for gun. Now listen close : 

You '11 stay right here ; by 'm by I '11 slip around 

And start the fun ; it is n't just the time ; 

It needs an hour yet until the sun 

Will light up all those holes. I '11 shoot six times 

Before they will catch on and hustle out 

To hunt for cover, — that will count for six. 

There ain't more 'n twenty there ; the place won't hold 

Up to two dozen. When they skip, you '11 have 

A fairish chance at them. If you can shoot 

Jim's Pardner's Tales 99 

In old Kentucky's way, you will get some, 
Though wind and sun is bad. Mebbe they '11 catch 
The wing of my old gun and find Jim's pard 
Has business with them. If so, they'll hit trail, 
And hit it quick and hard. They ought ter go 
Straight for divide ; their ponies must be there — 
There ain't no place in sight where they are hid — 
So they '11 go square off. Take the buck in lead, 
For they '11 most always stop to help him on — 
They ain't just coyotes there — that makes a bunch 
So you can shoot for sure. If they turn here, 
Light straight out for your crittur. If you camp 
Because he 's tuckered out, get in by dark 
And out by twelve o'clock. They '11 reckon that 
You '11 try it about four — fool white man's time 
That 's cost a lot of scalps. Just one thing more : 
If they ride hard and scatter out, you take 
The nighest on the jump. If twice your size, 
You '11 lay him down, set both knees on his back, 
Pull up his head with scalplock, slit his throat. 
It does n't take ten seconds, for a buck 
Settles right down so soon he feels your hand ; 
The rest will scare at it, for they don't mind 
So much the bullet, for that kind er seems 
Like the Lord sent it, but when it comes down 
To tussle and the knife, they find they face 
A better kind of man. Mebbe you 've seen 
A smart chap do the trick." 

" No, but I learned 

ioo Jim's Pardner's Tales 

Just how to do it when I was a boy. 

An old man Harris showed me all the moves 

Dozens of times. He was all clapper clawed 

By just such fighting — kept a hardware shop, 

Himself the hardest of the wares he kept." 

" Yes, you Kentucks found out that trick and learned 

Us Texans how. It has helped mightily 

A lot of chaps in close call." 

All the time 
While he was schooling me in this new trade — 
Or rather shape of old trade — I watched how 
His eye went like a searchlight o'er the scene, 
And where it lit the landscape seemed to turn 
To a strange clearness. " 'Bout time for a move, 
The sun is nigh to right. When I get there 
You'll hear the whacks — you'll know mine from the 

For they ring kind er like a bell. You '11 find 
That I shoot mighty slow. I never waste 
No cartridges, for they git on your mind 
Next time you need 'em. I will send six shots 
In half a minute. If I stop, you git ! " 
"No, I'll go to you." 

" The hell you will ! 
You won't, for I 'm not going fer to have 
You on my mind. There '11 be enough to do 
Without your fooling round." That was peremptory, 
But " he bossed this here outfit," as he said, 
So I held still. " Now you just keep your head 

Jim's Pardner's Tales ioi 

In easy cinch ; it's coming out all right, 
I 'gin to feel that He is somewhere nigh, 
Thinking I'm in a fix." 

He slipped away 
So in a flash I did not know him gone, 
Until I saw what seemed a tiger creep 
Nigh hidden on bare earth, — man-slaying beast 
Sprung from the desert sands ; he seemed to cast 
No shadow in the sun — impalpable, 
Half smudged out in the waste, he fitted in 
As brutes to wilderness. Swift he crept on 
Until upon a little mount he sprang 
Upon his feet and was again a man ; 
Threw up his arms as Arab when he sees 
Against the sky his Mahdi. As he stood, 
I looked with him ; saw past him on the hill 
A mighty Presence ; saw it with my soul 
And eyes obedient. Steadfast as a stone 
He stood there for a minute, then he dropped, 
Back to the tiger's shape — slipped straightway on 
Out of my sight. 

As it comes back to me 
This dreamy afternoon, I long to go 
Unto that wilderness and set a stone 
Telling, " Here dwelt a man who knew his Lord 
Stood on this hill, and dared to lift his eyes." 
But that would lie, "lie like an epitaph," 
Of him who was all truth. The other side 
Would have to tell what was on other side 

102 Jim's Pardner's Tales 

Of that complexity : " There dwelt in this man's heart 
The ancient slaying beast that shames our kind." 
So I shall leave him to those time-worn hills 
And to this tale half told. The rest may be 
As all shall be — God's silence to the end. 


Here is a trifle of a tale that tells 

Part of the story of an ancient war 

That lacks the telling in our histories. 

They 're mountains and wide seas in weary bulk 

Of marches, battles, sieges, and debates, 

With scanty showing of the hearts of men 

Who shaped our covenants, set hosts in arms, 

And sealed the winnings with their willing blood. 

For such uncharted infinites we turn 

To stories nigh forgot, that set those men 

Living before us, in their moments' deeds 

That sum unto their kind, and show its aims. 

Those snapshots give the chap, and not the pose 

That leaves him out and sets a manikin 

Where we needs have the man. Yea, this bit tells 

How came that wonder at the warfare's end, 

In the strange peace that broke upon the land 

As day from night, swift as a tropic dawn 

After a hurricane. One of a host 

Such as all soldiers of that time know well, 

Showing that we were warring not in heart, 

But through some strange compulsion that hurls on 

A folk in storm-swept sea. 

The scene is where 
The Southern army, that had swept its way 

104 The Forgotten Outpost 

To the Ohio, now was forced to turn, 

Foiled of its quest, in sullen rearward march. 

Such times are tedious, for the opposing hosts, 

Stretched in long columns, touch at front and rear, 

And day by day have but to trudge right on. 

What little there 's to do is with the troops 

Of fore and rear guards, and the flankers sent 

To guard 'gainst ambuscades and swift forays. 

It is but drowsy business at the best ; 

The duller on this day, for all knew well 

There 'd be but trudging till the armies came 

Centred for work, a hundred miles away, 

When Buell's force and Bragg's at length would meet 

On some wide field, now slumbering in the peace 

That autumn brings when harvest-time is done, 

For the hard battle. 

Close up to our front 
Rode the commander, tended by his staff; 
With them a captain native to the land, 
Who knew its fields, its by-ways, and its woods 
As only boy may know them. As they marched, 
They came near to a farm that captain owned, 
Until the enemy had closed his hand 
In war's hard fist — right title to the place. 
'T was but five miles away, and scant an hour 
With well-spurred horse would take him there and back 
To the slow-moving column ; give him time 
To see what Johnny 'd left of goods and ills 
On his estate — two months a prize of war. 

The Forgotten Outpost 105 

The doughty general, drowsing like the rest, 
Said, " Go, it 's safe enough : there 's nothing here 
But rear-guard messes ; on that flank, it's clear 
For good ten miles ahead." So he is forth 
On well-known way : first eastward o'er a hill, 
Where looking back he sees the serpent war 
Creep onward to the south, — a broken snake, — 
Front end the foe, the rear part his good friends ; 
'Twixt them a space flecked with the battling guards. 
The one should be of grey, the other blue, 
But both are common dun: for earth and sky 
Are wrapped in dust — fit uniform for war. 
From open hill his way turns through a wood, 
Where sixty fathoms deep the ancient peace 
Of the primeval rests upon the earth 
As sea upon its floor. 

Here he would stay 
And have refreshment, as the famished drinks 
From the eternal font ; but he must on 
Upon his errand. Yea, though it was good 
To know this peace, there was in it a fear 
That strangely smote him in his inner soul 
Right through the armour of the soldier's life 
That so well fends him from the noble deeps. 
Beyond the wood the way turns to the south 
In open country. Swifter there he rides, 
To win the time he 'd lost within that fane 
Where haste seemed profanation. 'T is a mile 
And he will win his end. But what is there 

106 The Forgotten Outpost 

Upon yon hill a hundred yards away ? 

A party of our flankers faring south ? 

No, these are bivouacked : and the fire tells 

That they have cooked their breakfast, and are now 

Ready for " Boot and saddle." They are foes : 

Forgotten outpost ; left within our lines. 

At such times men think quickly, and the youth 

Has wit enough to see his peril through. 

Before his plight was clear, he 's galloped on 

Until he has to face it. If he turns, 

His fate is certain, for they are a score 

Of steady carbineers. So on he goes 

At a hard gallop straightway through the troop, 

Reckoning the uniform of dust will hide 

What else would tell he is a Federal ; 

Calling as he goes onward to the men 

That they have missed their orders and should back 

To 'scape sure capture. All is done so swift 

That those good soldiers are a moment 'mazed. 

Some grip their carbines : some give him salute : 

All wait for orders from their officer, 

Through good mischance not by. So there is time 

For twenty jumps before the shout of " Halt ! " 

To which the farer gives no heed, but goes 

Unhastening on his way. Another break 

Most happy for the wight : the bugle calls 

To saddle, so the men forget to fire 

While aim is certain. Twenty seconds go 

Before the troop is horsed and shaped to charge. 

The Forgotten Outpost 107 

Meanwhile the easy gallop bears him on 

So that a hundred yards of space is won. 

Then blunder number three. There still is time 

For their good carbines to drop horse and man, 

But bugle sends them on before they fire, 

While they with troubled oaths thus blunder round 

For half a minute — share of eternity 

When it sends space between you and the guns 

That seek your life. His wits are mighty keen — 

As those of hunted brute. He is all ears : 

The stir of camp, the creak of saddle-gear, 

The shuffling feet, and then the forward leap 

Of front rank tells him what he dares not see ; 

For turn of head will stamp him as a foe 

And end their doubting. At the forward plunge 

Of hoofs on earth he bends him low and spurs 

With rowels deep, and now with look behind 

Searching the situation for a plan. 

'T is clear the foe are horsed on cattle worn 

By hard campaign, so that he draws away 

From all but their young leader. Though they fire 

As they surge on, it 's wildly, so their shots, 

Though now and then they sing, leave him untouched: 

And, better, 'scape his horse. For man may hold 

His saddle when hard hit, but touch of lead 

Is sorest handicap to best of steeds. 

Five minutes' run and there 's two hundred yards 

Of blessed room betwixt him and the field. 

The men now sling their carbines, and it comes 

108 The Forgotten Outpost 

To case of fox and hounds — with odds on fox : 

Good ten to one unless he plays the fool 

Or stumbles in the run. So now he cares 

For horse and gear, sits back and tugs at girth. 

The buckle breaks — well-known perversity 

Of things inanimate, that tells the Fiend 

Has else than care of souls. The saddle now 

Is a new risk ; he casts it off, and rides 

The lighter for its riddance. Thirty pounds 

Is good ten seconds in a hard-won mile ; 

Full half a league, if you ride to the end 

Of whip and spur and shout until horse drops 

And you take to your legs. — The path now turns — 

The farm is long forgotten — to by-ways 

That northward lead and circle towards our lines, 

Where there is safety and mayhap the chance 

To change this flight to chase. Still it is on : 

The thunder of the troopers and their shouts, 

With the swift patter of the nimble feet 

Half-furlong length in lead. Yea, it is fine, 

To ride for life : to be the hunted fox 

When you know well your ground. Your soul is up, 

Eyes keen, and muscles tense, and so you 're set 

As man 'gainst universe : with skill and might 

To play the game out, 'hap in end to win, 

Because you are a man ! 'T is worth an age 

Of drowse in ways of safety thus to feel 

This glorious loneliness beside the Lord 

The Forgotten Outpost 109 

Of mortal peril. — Once more looking back 
He sees the foe, out-breathed, have halted there 
At foot of this long hill they could not breast, 
And so give up the hunt. Their leader rides 
Slowly toward him, dismounts, waves a rag 
That once was handkerchief, and so asks truce 
With right to parley. Now it is no more 
A case of fox and hounds, but fellow-man 
Who seeks his fellow's help. When he is near : — 
" Good-morning, neighbour ; we have had a race. 
You 've give us a square beat." 

" You gave me chance/' 
" Oh, we were all durned fools, and you were smart. 
You played your game. Say, neighbour, tell us fair — 
Are n't we-uns in a fix ? " 

" Come on a mile, 
And you '11 have better breakfast than you left." 
" No, no, be neighbourly and help us out ; 
You see we 're in a {ix. We 've had no word 
From our commander since he set us there. 
We 're clean forgotten, or your scouts have caught 
The orderly. We don't know these here trails, 
And if we try 'em, Yanks will have us trapped, 
Sure as we live." They were no longer foes, 
But boys of one-and-twenty, of the stock 
That loves fair play in the hard give and take 
Of sorest war. So the fox turns now 
To help the hounds to safety. " Come with me 

no The Forgotten Outpost 

Soon as I get my saddle, and I '11 lead 
To where you '11 find the way." 

" I '11 send a man ; 
He'll catch us on the road." — Now they ride on, 
Chaffing as merry friends about the chase, 
Out to the cross-roads. There the saddle 's brought 
And swiftly mended by the willing men : 
Soon after cinched, he mounts and gives them clue 
Out of their peril. " Keep the main road west 
Until you strike the river : it 's now dry. 
Ride up its bed for twelve miles, — then strike west 
And you will be by sundown in your lines." 
The bugle sends them forward : handshake ends 
This moment's touch of friendship of those foes. 
Our captain stays and looks on as they ride 
Into the valley — up the hill to top ; 
There, turning in their saddles, they look too, 
And with their waved hats bid him farewell ; 
Then vanish in the wood. 

Now he is back 
With the slow-marching column and reports 
To his commander; how he was the fox, 
And how the hunt was ended. " You did well 
To save your bones from Libby, or your hide 
From being riddled. Those chaps shoot right well. 
But we will nab them with a troop of horse 
Sent straight on to the river half the way 
That they will have to ride." " That won't be fair : 

The Forgotten Outpost hi 

We had a flag of truce, and they have gone, 
As was agreed, while it was up." " You 're right. 
I 'm not so sure it holds — and yet you 're right: 
We must n't risk a chance of being wrong 
By fooling with that flag." 


You think that slaughtered men on battled fields 

Make the main part of war. You blunder there, 

For the good half of it is in men's wits, 

In the swift thinking and the steadfast aims 

When soul of man shapes to the rugged earth 

And 'gainst stout neighbours' is that airy might 

We know as victory for this or that 

Of far-enduring purpose and command. 

Rent fields and limbs are but war's crying shames ; 

Opprobrium of the masters who would shape 

This world to serve their kind. They hate the mess 

That steel and powder make, when stubborn minds 

Miss point of argument and like mad bulls 

Go head down to the charge. War ne'er will be 

The art Jomini fancied till men are 

Informed by logic ; so they never fail 

To catch the syllogism as it flies 

And play the kriegspiel as philosophers, 

With check and counter, and good umpires set 

To judge when there be doubt, or players hot, 

Who wins the noble game. Yet now and then 

In our rude ventures in this infant art, 

These barn-door dunlings of the men who wait 

For artist's shaping, we may dimly see 

The fashion of the finish ; when this trade 

The Great Raid 113 

Is purged at last of its iniquity. 
The tale that 's now to tell has touch of this 
Fair game of war play : for it knows no field 
With mounds of hearsed bones or monuments 
To show that here held so and so and here 
Another heaped his slain. Yet 't was a game 
Played to a finish like a bout at chess. 
What came of hard knocks was mere accident : 
'Hap twenty score of hurts ; some scattered graves 
Where quavering women laid their trust in God ; 
And lop-limbed fellows who had ample pay 
In pensions and the right to spin their yarns 
By cosy firesides : scarce more mischance 
Than comes from mimic fights in Germany, 
When its great war-lord sets his hosts afield 
To trample down the corn and show the world 
What might be in his hand for devil's work — 
Sad happenings, but small price for the game. 

'T was in our Lord's good year of sixty-three : — 

Or was it Satan's ? — when this goodly earth 

Was sown with dragon's teeth instead of grain : 

When from the Atlantic out to western verge 

Of field that knew the plough sprang up armed men 

In hosts no land had known in all the age 

Since that last beast came to the wilderness, 

Changing its peace to never ending war. 

Two years of combat had shaped well their ranks 

From clumsy might into the nimbleness 

ii4 The Great Raid 

Of acrobats who swing them in the air. 

It was the time when Gettysburg drew near, 

When in the west the watching hosts were set 

By Chattanooga's hills, and all the earth 

From the Ohio to the Tennessee, 

Long trampled by the foemen, lay a waste ; 

When crippled men and women strove to win 

Scant chance of life amid its ruined homes, — 

Sole mark of nearby war, save for the toil 

Of mill and factory wherein we shaped 

The myriad needs of those on-toiling hosts, 

From monitors to batter Vicksburg down 

To surgeon's tools for mending battered men, 

Biscuits and bridges, shoes and shells and guns, 

By train and shipload ever to the lines — 

A nation's substance for the maw of war. 

The demon must be fed, for if it starve 

But for a day, it helpless sinks and dies. 

Such is the so-called base of all the might 

By which we strove to rend the South apart 

With the stout wedge that opened Sherman's way 

Unto the sea and brought us victory — 

Yea, better, brought us peace. It is a town, 

This Cincinnati, on the northern shore 

Of the great river which had formed the moat 

Impassable to all the Southern hosts. 

Scant year ago, a hundred thousand men 

Had swung into its verge and halted there 

Before a land in arms. So it seemed safe 

The Great Raid 115 

To find this treasure house, with ten-score miles 

Between it and the semblance of a force, 

Unguarded and alone. All of our foes 

Were swept from sight or in the clutch of lines 

That held them fast and safely. So they toiled, 

Those helpers of our soldiers, in their shops 

As their far brothers on the Tennessee, 

In the great centred purpose, with no fear 

Of danger leaping on them. Yet it hung 

As unseen sword in air, for in that wild, 

That brooding desolation of long war, 

There was a marvel in the ancient art 

Of smiting swift with stroke that found its end : 

The dauntless Morgan, chief of partisans, 

Who played on earth with thunderbolts of sky. 

The rumours had it he with broken force 

Was nursing sore hurts in the Georgian hills, 

And mending his lean ranks. Our searching scouts 

In long months' forays found no trace of him, 

And judged his part was done. — Thus till a morn 

With an odd happening : the packet-boats 

That plied the Ohio in their daily round, 

Each parting from its post at 'customed time, 

Vanished as clouds in air. We nothing knew 

Save that they 'd met strange end. Then, in an hour, 

The telegraph was still, and so we guessed — 

As soldiers must — right surely what it meant : 

That Morgan was upon us. He had come 

With such sure swiftness that he 'd balked our scouts, 

n6 The Great Raid 

Captured the packets, ferried o'er the stream, 

And now was ready to strike to his goal. 

In capture of our base. Another hour 

In came the messages that men had borne 

Hard riding to the stations on the north, 

Showing we 'd read it right ; that he was there, 

Five thousand strong, with twelve guns, men still fresh, 

But horses jaded. So he must remount 

With captures from the farmers. Thus we 'd have 

Two days, 'hap three, before he on us came. 

To bar this veteran host we had of force 

But shreds and fag-ends, recruits for the front, 

Headquarters guards, and men from hospitals — 

In all, the half of his well-knit array. 

Then was a scurry up and down the place 

To shape a plan and have it swift afoot. 

Never before were deeds so done to prove 

What might lies sleeping in a nation's heart 

That holds high purposes. Swift forth there came 

From every farm-house men who in good toil 

Had found their way to war. They went straight on, 

Each as he willed, to hamper or to smite 

This foe dropped from the sky. The cross-roads knew 

Once more the stubborn throngs with rustic arms, 

Wherewith our folk have smote the ages on 

Whoever might assail, with force that breaks 

Like cloud before the wind of veterans' stroke, 

But vexes, wearies, shears their strength away, 

And balks their best-laid plans. They felled the trees 

The Great Raid 117 

To block the ways, or broke the bridges down, 

So that his guns and wagons need creep on 

For time at snail's pace; made him often pause 

Upon his way to glean afar with arms 

What he had hoped to pluck in marching on. 

Within the town the leader of our men, 

Stout Burnside, met the need with veteran skill. 

Swift with his messages he gathered in 

A force to chase the foe. Up river came 

A fleet of gunboats, little flimsy things 

Beside the monsters of the deep that send 

Volcanic might afar, but serving well 

To sweep the shores and forests and stay troops 

That tried a crossing. 'T was a well-set plan 

To keep the raiders ever so beset 

They might not win recruits from malcontents 

Or from the South, and have no chance to turn 

Their veteran host 'gainst home guards, and so gain 

The conquerors' place upon the Northern soil. 

For there was still a slumb'ring, treacherous brood 

In all the border land that would awake 

If 'hap a battle 's won. A year ago 

He tried like venture at Augusta's ford, 

To be swept back by Bradford's lusty crew. 

There was yet mighty danger that the blast 

From victors' trumpets would blow us a flame 

To scorch us from our hold. 

About the town 
Gathered the few fit for the searching task 

1 1 8 The Great Raid 

Of the trained soldier — scant two thousand men. 

Who could be trusted to hold long and give 

The brave pursuit a chance to smite the foe 

Hard blow on rear, so that he would not dare 

To try the final venture of assault, 

But must hie on for safety in his raid 

That might range far, but sure would fret away 

His strength to ruin. There was no mustering 

Of raw men in those ranks a charge swift turns 

Into a rout: the leader trusted well 

Unto the well-trained few to strike and stand ; 

To follow up the host if it won on 

Into the town, and smite them as they went 

About their ravaging. So all was planned 

In the good soldier's way. 

The second morn, 
Hard-riding scouts gave warning that the foe, 
Swiftly new horsed, had brushed aside the throngs 
Cumbering his passage and pressed boldly on. 
Our spies told of dissensions in their plans, — 
'Hap 'twas but ruse to put us off our guard. 
At times the rumours of their camp told how 
They 'd try assault. Again they 'd seek the chance 
For crossing of their main force at the ford 
A league below the town, sending a troop 
To feint upon our line. Once past the stream, 
They 'd win the rear of our forts on the south 
And turn their guns against us. Straightway then 
Half of our slender force was hot afoot 

The Great Raid 119 

To bar that crossing from the northern shore. 

Three leagues of forced march in a July morn 

Brought trusty regiment and eight good guns 

Upon the river's brink, before the place 

Where the Ohio broke in eddying whirls — 

The " riffle " where a well-horsed veteran force 

Might dare a crossing : perilous, yet sure 

Save for the luckless, if no enemy 

Waited to smite them ; Stygian ford if tried 

'Gainst well-aimed shot. Straightway the scouts 

Breasted the flood and flung themselves afar 

Through woods and fields, to win touch with the foe 

And judge his purpose, while the waiting line 

Made ready for their task. Keen axes rang, 

Felling the ancient trees beside the stream, — 

Those warders of the land against the flood 

That hurls upon it from the far-off hills, — 

Making of boughs a tangle where the foes 

Who won them through the wave would dance the while 

Our rifles played on them. Such is swift work 

When half a thousand share it. In a trice 

What was the possible for daring men 

Changed to a hopeless venture none would try 

Who had trained war sense. Soon hard-ridden scouts 

Come one by one with news a slender force — 

Mayhap a squadron — strikes straight for the ford; 

Ev'n now their skirmishers peer through the wood 

To change long shots with us. Then other scouts 

Who 'd circled round that troop made it full sure 

120 The Great Raid 

We faced a front where half a hundred foes 

Held purposeless our thousand, while the host 

Went straightway for the city on a march 

Six hours sure would cover. It was dark 

Before this stood out clear, and back we went 

To hunt our enemy and bar his way 

Unto the city, trusting few to hold 

Where we had stood. — Night marching 's mighty hard, 

Even to freshest men, but when you Ve striven 

From dawn to win a field and set a fight, 

And then at eve must forth to seek another, 

The Lord knows where, all sorts save Japanese 

Begin to kick at pricks. So on we went, 

Stumbling and swearing, yet with willing souls 

The better fit for duty for their plaint. 

The knapsacks weighed us down, our feet were sore, 

The ill-horsed cannon called for helping hands 

At every ditch and hill. One ponderous gun, 

A piece for parapet and not for field, 

A thirty-pounder Parrot, fit to smite 

A league away, dubbed " Teaser " by the men, 

Was endless trial to their hearts and thews. 

A dozen ill-trained horses balked the task 

And left us anchored to the way, until 

With prolongs linked together on it goes, 

A hundred men before it, with a cheer 

And tug that swings that Juggernaut straight on. 

Soon ferried o'er the river we are forth 

To seek our place, well-guided by the news 

The Great Raid 121 

Of the foe's march that our swift riders brought. 

Right through the throng-packed city, streets where folk, 

Brooding their peril, welcomed with a roar 

The sight of ready arms, our column went, 

Heartened by greeting, helped by food and drink, 

But most by that glad cry of those who hailed 

Our sheltering might as safety. Ye who 've seen 

Mothers who clutched their babes to breast in fear 

Of the on-coming foe know ill of war 

Worse than the red field sends, for there are men 

With man's heart for the trial. On we go 

From miles of town to other miles of fields. 

'T is midnight now, and up the waning moon 

Rides in far silence that mocks stir of war 

On this bewildered earth. So it has looked 

The ages down upon a myriad ways, 

When men have worn their hearts out in the march 

To smite or save, — as it would tell to Heaven : 

This warring is the moment ; all that stays 

Is God's enduring peace." 

Now we are come 
To the appointed place, where from a hill 
Broad, gently sloping, deep, the road sinks down 
Into a noble vale. On either side 
Are villas set in gardens, on the left 
A mansion with a lawn that stretches far — 
A glacis for the guns. 'T is a fair place, 
Where man has gathered in his trust to dwell 
With friendly earth and sky. Yea, but the night 

122 The Great Raid 

Hath villain Satan in it, and he comes 

For service with our host. Swiftly the line 

Deploys upon this pleasaunce to its place, 

Lit by the battle lanterns. Swift the men 

Hew down the shrubbery to clear the field 

And heap the tangled ruin on our front. 

The guns are set and trained upon the road. 

Ere line is shaped, the leader of our force 

Is forth with men for outposts and a plan 

To daunt the on-coming foe. Near half his troops 

He sets as pickets, grand guards and patrols, 

A fringe to fit ten thousand ranged in line. 

He knows the doughty Morgan from old days 

As poker player, who judged craftily, 

With no rash ventures in his wary game, 

Seeking for certainties. There was the chance 

That when he tried these outposts he would halt 

For day to shape the danger, giving time 

For our swift chasing force to come in touch 

And hurl his rear guard in. Then in that coil 

He 'd seek the moment's safety and hie on, 

Leaving our line untried, else force assault. 

The end is certain, for 'gainst five to one, 

Mayhap in hour's fight the game is up, 

In open field, for swift they wrap you in. 

Good men will hold for long if foes but strike 

Straight at their front, but 'neath a centring fire 

From face and flanks and rear, their hearts go down, 

And in the huddle up goes flag of truce. 

The Great Raid 123 

The ruse will work if Basil Duke 's not there — 
That Rupert who rides hard and never turns 
Save gainst a fortress wall. Some spies brought in 
The word that he was there, while others told 
He had been wounded in the northward march 
And left behind. So 't was a turn of card 
Whether the bluff would soon be called or not. 
Back from his outposts and hard ride away 
Beyond their front to judge how near the foe, 
Once more the leader sits to shape his plan. 
First he must care lest spies creep to his line, 
Finding its nakedness. 'T is now the time 
The farmers troop along their way to town 
With wagons laden for the market-place. 
They 're herded in a barnyard as they come — 
Set round with guards who bid them hold their peace. 
'T is the rude way of war. There 's one more task 
Before the finish : on the left there stands 
The mansion built of stone, whereof the lawn 
And garden-place are trodden by our men ; 
'Sconced by the windows and by loopholes pierced 
Through its stout masonry, we 'd hold out long, 
Finding the road and cleaning out the guns 
If they were swept by charge. For all the din 
Of singing host and toil to clear the ground 
The household slept in peace ; they nothing dreamed 
Of coming war. Here, far from haunts of men, 
They knew not of this rage that leapt on them. 
Now at the porch the leader knocks and shouts, 

124 The Great Raid 

Till from the window frightened women peer. 

At sight of battle-line beside their door 

They 're crazed with fright. 'T would trouble your sound 

To find a thousand devils where you 're wont 
To know fair birds and blossoms, when you look 
Over your lawn and garden as you send 
Good-morning to the sun. — When it is clear 
No man is in the house, or even lad 
To do a man's part in the parleying, 
The leader sends for detail — steady men, 
Householders, fathers, for the ugly work 
Of mastering these helpless. In they go 
With swift plied axes, seize the frantic folk, 
Clothe them as best they may, heap what they find 
Of precious stuff in bundles, pack them with the lot 
Out to the ambulances and away 
For safety in the rear. Meanwhile, a throng, 
Working like demons, turn the home to hold. 
He who hath known of war hath memories 
Of sorry deeds that startle him in nights, 
And make him creep back to this blessed day 
With wonder what he was when they were done 
At bidding of hard duty. But the worst — 
The Devil's worst — are not those done on men, 
But on the helpless, on the Lord's forlorn, 
Thus smote with iron hand. Yea, he was right, 
The master Sherman, when he said of war 
That it was Hell. 

The Great Raid 125 

Now may the weary men 
Lie by their arms and clutch, ere coming dawn, 
At good forgetfulness of day that's past 
And day to come. Most sleep so soon they fall, 
But here and there the tireless, those that go 
Through long campaign unshaken, unfatigued, 
As if the earth had shaped them for hard war, 
Gossip with neighbours, droning on and on 
Of what 's in hearts : and as their leader goes 
Watching amid his men to judge their shape 
And fitness for the task there is to do, 
If Duke be with the foe when morning comes, 
He hears that high note 'mid the ribald talk, 
Of home and commonwealth and help of men, 
That sent those warring hosts on way to death 
That they might spare them shame. — And as he heard, 
There came to him the splendour of his folk 
As dawn lights in the sky. That majesty 
Shaped by the ages cribbed in mortal frames 
To sight most common, yet to eye that sees 
By chance the deep, the garners of the faith 
Of hundred generations that have striven 
To lift their kind. There be times when the sun 
Of the eternal day breaks through the night 
That men call high noon, to illumine life 
That we its glory know. So to that youth 
Of two-and-twenty years strange chance had sent 
To be the leader here ; this grace was given 
To see his fellows there laid on the sod 

126 The Great Raid 

As the Lord made them, keepers of his faith — 
His servant kings to rule the wondrous realms 
Won from the night — and on for two-score years 
That vision bides. 

The dawn is in the sky, 
The stars go out — down shuts the veil of day 
To 'fend men from the spaces ; so they do 
Their little deeds unrecking of the deeps. 
The scouts bring word the foe comes swiftly on, 
His front three miles away and marching straight 
Upon our outposts. There the leader speeds 
To judge their dispositions and to see 
What is to do. First is to brace his heart 
As 'gainst the sky-line, half a league away, 
Behold the war front lifts as wave in sea 
With might to 'whelm him in its drowning surge. 
Five thousand foot is myriads to the man 
Who has to face them ; horsed, they 're moving earth 
As if the woods and fields were turned to foes 
To have straight at his life. Then warily 
To judge their purpose. At a glance 't is clear 
Their march is troubled : they have not the front 
Set for the stroke, but columns well apart 
On separate ways. 'T will take an hour's time 
To shape them for the rush. An hour more 
For outpost work and scouting. If they dare 
Straight on, the job is easy, for our guns 
Have clean sweep down the road. They 're safe to break 
Ten thousand set in column. But the foe 

The Great Raid 127 

Halts at the touch of outposts, and his scouts 
Search out the ground for action. Like keen dogs 
That work a field for hunters, forth they hie 
Upon their errand, nosing well the earth, 
Counting the pickets, noting where grand guards 
Hold post at cross-roads, seeking what the force 
Is hid behind those brushed lines where guns 
Gape hunger through the ports ; catching the glint, 
Now here now there, of muskets in the sun. 
They sum the story to their chief, who sits, 
A brave mark for a shell, with field-glass up, 
Upon a noble horse. *T is that the host 
That fronts him there may be full twice his own ; 
Its line and outposts fit ten thousand men. 
They are well hid, as if they 'd lead him on 
And spring an ambuscade. The brave man sees 
Trouble before him. Knows the thing to do 
Is send reconnoissance straight at the line, 
Hurl back the outpost, draw the waiting fire, 
And find the gist of it; else turn the flank, 
And try it with a charge. It is his trade, 
Learned well in Mexico, where masters taught 
That war is action, swift, straightforward, true 
To war's intent in smiting ; practised since 
On many a swift swept field. Yet now he halts 
Before the chance he's dreamed of for long years, 
The very heart of foe awaiting stroke 
That would bring victory to his loved cause. 
And yet he waits and reckons — Caesar waits 

128 The Great Raid 

Upon his Rubicon so long it needs 

To shout, " The die is cast," then on to Rome. 

Put valiant Pompey there, and he '11 attend 

The shaking dice, auspices, and debates 

Until the runlet hath grown to a sea. 

Such is the difference 'twixt this and that, 

'Twixt first and second in man's mighty game. 

The gambler wins who knows the cards and men 

And never halts the play. Yea, while he waits 

To judge the situation, up there comes 

A dust-cloud in the west and spattering 

Of distant muskets, first drops from the storm 

That hurls upon him ; yet there still is time 

For the true first class. — Set it on the die 

And call it cast! Let one battalion hold 

For rear-guard work, then six to swing right on 

To the appointed place and make the end. 

If checked in front, his foe 's but infantry 

That creeps while horse may fly. The sun 's just up, 

And 'fore it sets there 's time to put the torch 

To all that stays their army. Flame flies fast 

With brave men's breath to blow it. Yet in vain 

Th' horizon may recede until it shows 

Rome at the grasp of hand, and still it needs 

The Caesar's soul to clutch it. So this man, 

Master of valiant deeds, halts 'fore the task 

Set for the soldier who hath in him might 

To shape far destinies. 

Now breaks that host 

The Great Raid 129 

In column marching east, and we have won 

Without a shot. It is a wondrous sjght 

To see a mounted legion march away 

As in review before you : most so when 

You Ve turned them to your purpose and they go 

Straight on the way you bade them. Yea, 'tis done, 

And in the commonplace that wraps war's deeds 

As other doing, there 's no more to it : 

The question is of breakfast. Haversacks 

Are empty as are bellies, so they turn 

Swift to the farmers' wagons that are caged 

In nearby barnyard. 'T is a sorry crew ; 

They thought us Morgan's men, and all the night 

Clamoured their treason, told how they were kin 

To Rebels in his host and would be there 

So soon they might. Their punishment is swift, 

For in a trice there 's market for their wares 

At every camp-fire, and their wagons go 

As empty as their pockets back to home. 

Now comes the after farce of this neat play — 

This comedy of arms, mere mimic war, 

As those will judge it who look but for fields 

Heaped with the dead, and see not 't is a game 

Where wits are matched to win a bit of earth, 

The better if ''t is clean. It needs be told, 

For from the telling you '11 see how the tasks 

Of strenuous men are done light-heartedly, 

And not with knitted brows and burthened souls. 

While bugles are a-singing breakfast call, 

130 The Great Raid 

Our leader wonders where he '11 find his chance ; 

The others' share was scanty, and his own 

Had vanished with his man, a tricky black, 

Who mixed his foraging with work of spy, 

And like enough is hanged. Now comes the word 

That in our rear, a scant two miles away, 

A true friend who had held his house alone — 

(Good Master Greenwood of another tale) 

His people forth for safety — bade him there 

To share a breakfast. Ah, there was the chance, — 

Temptation from the Lord, — for in the man 

Was that wild hunger of the wight who 's come 

From near the gate where " army fever " sends 

Great hosts for welcome. Oh, but there 's the foe 

Still marching by our front ! The column's head 

In east past sight, and rear guard in the west 

As yet invisible. Mayhap he '11 turn 

And try a venture. Nay, for there 's the dust 

Of the pursuit that's on them, pillar like 

From earth to sky. There 's now no time for halt. 

So wits and hunger argue, and the greed, 

As is the way, won out. And he is forth 

With two good orderlies to make him sure 

Of swift news, if there 's need. The one he posts 

On hill in sight of line, the other sets 

Horsed by a window where is laid the feast 

That waits good welcome. If there comes alarm, 

Swift steed will have him there in fitting time — 

Ten minutes at the most. He on the hill 

The Great Raid 131 

To catch the signal and wig-wag it on, 

He by the window to stay on the watch 

With eyes bent on his mate. — Now for the feast — 

Ham, coffee, eggs, da capo, silently, 

With pauses brief to hand the sentry out 

Fair share of it, with warning to look sharp 

For chance of signal. Luculluses have striven 

For time and world about to set fair boards, 

But never yet have had a chance to feed 

A famished guest as there. The hapless lot 

Of Sybarites who Ve never known the cry 

Of every starving fibre of their frames 

Know not what hunger means. It needs a wight 

Who 's fed from saddle-pocket for two days, 

While all of mind and body toiled their best, 

And who at end hath won, to know how good 

Is gift of daily bread. 

The breakfast done, 
The host, well skilled in things mechanical — 
A maker of great engines, with a taste 
For curious toys, would show some he 'd received 
Straightway from Paris. Odd dolls — you mind the springs, 
They strut and dance and quaver words of French. 
The table pushed aside, the bare floor served 
For boulevard whereon these manikins 
Acted their comedy to split your sides. 
On all fours with them host and guest forgot, 
The Lord knows how long, that the tide of war 
Rolled scarce a league away. Till from the horse 

132 The Great Raid 

Of sentry came a whinny : looking up, 

They see the loon-faced idiot who 'd been charged 

Upon his life to watch the signal man, 

With jaw-dropped wonder looking at the play. 

Three leaps, and our scared leader's on his steed, 

Spurring his best straightway across the fields, 

To save a furlong length, cursing the fool 

That harboured in his hide. But when he comes 

Upon the line, all is as when he left ; 

A dust-wrapped throng of horse that streams straight on 

Steadfast as caravan unto far wells, 

With never turn aside, and in the west 

Another dust cloud marching in the sky 

Where the pursuit strove on. There as he drew 

Full breath of peace, there entered unto him 

A vagrant colonel, sample of the kind 

Who infect fields of action. Peace and war 

Alike know much of them. This fellow had 

A troop of horse behind him, two-score men, 

All raw recruits : caught on the way to front 

And tumbled to our line for chance of use. 

Seeing the foe, he to our leader shouts : 

"Why don't you fire on them? " 

"If we did that, 
We might hit sundry men." 

" Why are you here ? " 
" We 're here to send those people on the way 
They 're pleased to go. While they move right on 
As fits the purpose, 't is no time to smite 

The Great Raid 133 

For the mere slaying. You should know full well 
The master Jomini bids soldier 'ware 
Of giving battle when he is not sure 
That what he '11 win is better than the gain 
Withholding will afford." 

" Who 's that fool 
Who tells you not to hit with such a chance ? " 
; This Jomini, my dear sir, shared campaigns 
With Bonaparte and left to us the gist 
Of war's good lessons, taught us how to play 
The game and not the fool." 

Now comes the end 
Of the great march in rear guard falling back 
With many a halt and turn to smite the chase 
That goes hard at them. Numbers like his own 
Are gathering swift on Morgan, for in sky 
To north and west and east the dust clouds march, 
Telling the hosts that come. Then by our front 
Rolls in the vanguard of the hot pursuit, 
A troop of veteran riders, dirty, worn 
To that hard semblance of a fellow man 
More like to fellow brute. Their part 's to keep 
The foe upon the march so swift he may 
Have time for no forays. Close after them 
The solid column, sweeping steadfast on, 
Watching the chance to force the foe to give 
Battle for safety. On the flanks here ride 
The trustiest men to search 'gainst ambuscades 
And sweep his flankers back upon his line. 

134 The Great Raid 

The hunt 's well ordered, and the run to earth, 
Though long, is certain — sure as ever chance 
When dice are shaken in the game of war. 
Far in the valley where the river flows, 
We hear the cannon as the gunboats send 
Warning to scouts who seek to find a ford, 
There is no thoroughfare. 

So it is done, 
The city 's safe, and all there is to reap 
Is but the aftermath — the sorry end 
Of a great venture that was shaped to change 
Map of the world, had valour been all man 
Needs for fulfilment. - — Swift the dust and roar 
Of that vast flight and chase go past the sky 
To be with yesterdays, and those days heap 
Until they mount into a score of years. 
Good years, for earth 's forgot the tramp of hosts, 
And sometime foes are friends in its fair work. 
Now and again he who has told this tale 
Has wondered how it came that Morgan missed 
His leap to Rubicon : until one night 
He found in crowded hostel Basil Duke. 
They lodged together; talked until 'twas time 
To snuff the candle out, of nearby things, 
And turned them to good sleep. Then as the veil 
That curtains off the deep rolled up and left 
The far-off vista clear, he who once had 
That task of arms here told called out to Duke, 
" Were you with Morgan on the Ohio raid, 

The Great Raid 135 

When he rode by our base he could have had 

For little more than asking? " 

" Hang it, man, 

Why wake a chap to ask him such fool thing ? " 
" Because I Ve often wondered what it meant 

That chance was lost." 

" No, I was hit before 

He crossed the river, and was left behind." 
" So that 's the reason that I was not licked ! " 

Sleepily, " I reckon that it was." 


'T was in that year of thunder, — sixty-two. 

When surging through the mountains on there came 

A hundred thousand foemen past the lines 

That fenced the North from ravage. All our might 

From the great river east to Georgia's hills 

Was swallowed in the flood that on us poured. 

When we, the sorry gleaning of those hosts 

That vanished with brave Buell in the deep, 

Were backward swept until our remnant came 

Upon the Ohio's verge, there found a ditch 

Fresh dug as for our graves, with but one hope, 

To hold the foe from crossing. Once his feet 

Upon the northern shore, then all was done ; 

For there sedition waited leaders fit 

To rank its hosts against us. Then the help 

Of those who in the West had heard our cry 

Would find another sea to overwhelm. 

Where all else was despair there shone the hope — 

Nigh hopeless in that night — to hold the line 

The river set for us ; for a hard drought, 

Parching the starved fields and the hearts of men 

To tinder for war's flame, had shrunk its tide 

Until there was a ford by which the foe, 

Keen-eyed and brave, could pass. Thereto we sent 

A fleet to 'fend a crossing — good stout boats, 

Augusta 137 

Well armed, and captained by men brave of speech 
Who bore our trust with them as forth they went, 
With mighty bluster, to the victory 
Fools set in visions ere they knew their foe. 

I well remember how we hearkened there, 
In the vast stillness of an autumn morn, 
The far-off tooting of the mighty guns — 
Quick beat on beat, as if a giant's heart 
Was throbbing in hard battle. So we knew 
The foe was on us at Augusta's ford, 
And all our nation's hope was in the hearts 
We 'd trusted for defence — trusted in vain ; 
For soon the roar of cannon died away, 
And down the river in mad flight there came 
The sorry remnant of our fleet, with tale 
That they 'd been overwhelmed by mighty hosts, 
And saw while fleeing how these swept right on 
And shaped their ranks upon the northern shore. 

So hope went out, yet in the ancient way 
Of our hard kind we with our neighbours quirked, 
Chewed our hard victual, scoffed at earth and sky, 
While in our hearts we thought of fields where men 
Had found their way to rest, as Victory 
Lit their on-going flags. Yea, bitterness 
Soul-eating lay behind our shamming grins ; 
For we saw now the end in Freedom dead, 
While we limp-handed stood beside her grave. 

138 Augusta 

Then in that darkness came a messenger, — 

Came as Phidippides, spent, — yet with word 

The foe was stayed upon the southern shore 

By a hard fight, with whom he knew not, for 

He saw it from afar ; long heard the rage 

Of a fierce battle, as he rode away, 

Quaking the earth and sky. Soon came his mate, 

With a like story — how 'mid fired town 

There was a vast contending. Flame and smoke 

Hid all the rest, and none had broke their way 

Through that volcano. One more on his heels, 

Who saw the fires die out and 'mid the wreck 

Our banner lifted and the northern shore 

Of the great river untrod by the foe. 

Yea, it was dazing so from death to leap 

Back to the glorious day ; to know as those 

Whose hearts broke on old fields, down from the sky 

The noble twain came with the might of gods, 

Turning despair to wondrous victory. 

Surely it came from sky, for all the earth 

Was lean as ever churchyard of the life 

To set such battle-line. All fit for war 

Were with their flags, or where their flags had stood. 

Yea, in that little place of miracle 

There sure were not five score in shape of men, 

Greybeards and lads who could lay cheek to gun. 

They check a veteran host, when our great fleet 

Fled Tore the might that marched to certain end ? 

Nay, 'twas impossible — the Lord was there, 

Augusta 139 

In some strange presence shaping to his will. 

So bowed as beaten men by mystery, 

Our ribald host was stilled until we knew 

The wondrous simple story : how a man, 

A certain Bradford, doctor in that town, 

Roused in the night by scout who told there came 

Nigh to a thousand picked from Morgan's men, — 

They who had smote us hard on many fields 

And ever to defeat, — had gathered in 

The gleanings of war's sickles, bound them firm 

In a great sheaf of valour with the tale 

Of what it meant if that host won its way 

Across Augusta's ford. That they stood there, 

As oft their sires of old, where men should die, 

Sparing the Lord all questions save the way 

To do their dying well. So they had held 

Beneath their burning roof-trees through that night 

Of hopeless battle, save for hope forlorn 

That with them to the dust they might bear down 

The leaders of their foe — laid on so hard 

The shattered victors would not dare the ford 

Unto the further shore. Yea, they had won, 

They dead and living, to that mighty deed 

And sent their conquerors backward in swift flight, 

Their captains maimed or dead and all the host 

Smote to the heart, as are the best of men 

Upon such fearful winning. 

When our force 
At eve came to that ruin where the morn 

140 Augusta 

Augusta's village lay, — mere shambles now, 
Trodden by Satan's hoofs, — we found the folk, 
The white-faced women and the wounded men, 
The frightened children, little wondering souls, 
Still by their doctor led, fighting to hold 
The ebbing life in heart of friend or foe ; 
To stay the fires by which their wounded burnt 
On war's brave altar. — 'T was the ancient tale 
From the grim story of ten thousand years 
Of what is man, — the image of his lord, 
Whose name is Satan though it be writ Mars, 
Jehovah, yea, or Christ, who 's changed His cross 
For a two-edged sword. 

We saw not that, 
Nor aught of wondrous doing, save we 'd won 
And paid the winner's price. Had our hard laugh 
At that grim doctor with his double trade 
Of sword and salving ; said in soldier's way 
They were a damned good lot who stood with him — 
So for the veterans' prayer above the dead. 
Then forth we went to other slayings, where 
New-spilt blood blotted old, and faces white 
Of other women bowed o'er other dead. 
Ah, but this grim old world is commonplace, 
And never men begrimed with dust and mire 
And better worth forgetting than in war ; 
And in a trice Augusta's dead were dead 
As those of ancient Rome, and on we went 

Augusta 141 

To save the commonwealth by slaying all 
That makes it other than a common woe. 

On crept those years of horror to the grave 
Wherein we earthed our best, and those who 'scaped 
Crawled forth into the sun to mend their hides 
And wash their tattered souls in Lethe's stream, 
Glad of oblivion, good fate's best gift 
To those who linger 'mid the wounds of war. 

So on for forty years, until the sod 
Sunk in the empty graves, and the old lines, 
Where ramparts girt with cannon frowned o'er ditch 
To swallow hosts, were smoothed as is the sea 
When storm is by ; here set with shadowy woods 
And there with quiet sheepfolds. Thus dear Earth 
Sets her fair ministers, the frost and rain, 
The eager roots that find good sap in death, 
Lifting her dust in other blossoming, 
To smooth away her scars. 

In two-score years all fades save memory 
Of noble deeds and men, and they shine out 
As stars when day is done: they bid our eyes 
Look up and wonder how they came to bide 
Forever in the vault, while we stay here 
With the great deep between us and the goal 
That they have surely won. So in the eve 
Of the vast night I trod again the way 

142 Augusta 

That to Augusta led ; to question there 

Of men and earth how that brave deed was done 

And how it was forgot ; how that stern host, 

Shaped from the nothingness of common men, 

Had set a battle such as ne'er was waged 

On this tormented sphere : so swift and true 

To reckoned duty and the angel death, 

Where with their lives they sealed a nation's fate, 

Barring the path of ruin ; and went on 

Into the silence stirred by no vain breath. 

The earth is still the earth of that far day, 

The hills drink in the river where the tide 

Bears on its sheaved springs unto the sea. 

The village stays as then beside the stream, 

All is as was of old, save for a place, 

A place of mighty graves, where silent lies 

The dust that once knew duty, but now sleeps 

Forgetting and forgot. There o'er the stones 

Still seared by that wild flame the children troop 

On merry way to school. I asked a lad 

To tell me of that fight. But he knew well 

Of ancient famous doings far away 

At Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, 

Of Gettysburg, and many a further field 

Over the seas and down far ways of war, 

Yet nothing of the glory 'neath his feet, 

For all it was his own ; as rich as e'er 

This paupered earth can be with life of men, 

Augusta 143 

Once valour, that is dust. So on I went, 

Questioning the folk in street and shop until 

I found the sorry remnant — five old men, 

All who had shared the doing of that day 

And lingered to our own : grim, silent men, 

Who turned them all unwilling from the sun 

To grope into the dark for memories 

Of deeds they would forget. The first of them — 

A merry sinner — bade me go to Hell 

And ask the Devil of it. When he found 

The way to courtesy — for in his hulk 

Lurked ancient gentleman — he said to me : 

Stranger, that fight was forty years ago ; 

'T was a damned shindy and is well forgot. 

You see the graves up there on yonder hill ; 

We buried it all there. Let 's have our chat 

Of the next races, or of last year's crops, 

Or the election. Come, we '11 have a drink 

And gab of better things." Thus one by one 

They turned their eyes away from that hard sight 

I bade them see again. Yet in the end, 

For sake of stranger, they looked back on it 

With grey, set faces and with half-closed eyes : 

Told me it all as I shall tell it you, 

So soon the stage is ranged for that brave play. — 

A simple story of the deed that men 

Had done for duty, and had buried deep 

In the grave's silence, never changing word 

With one another of that wonder done. 

144 Augusta 

And when I asked the sinner why it was 
They 'd held these years to silence, low he said, 

" You know damned well the reason." Yea, I knew 
How hearts thus hard and stern and seared by war 
Seal in the darkness bitter memories 
That day may keep its sunshine and the night 
Send blessed sleep to them. "And yet," I said, 

" There 's Colonel X., he often tells the tale, 
So it has grown for years and he in it, 
Till now he's all the battle." Then they grinned, 
Each at the other, till the sinner spoke, 
Now shyly as ashamed : " Our Colonel X. 
Was hid away at other end of town 
Until the fight was done. Now don't you tell — 
The Lord made him for brag." 

Then bit by bit, 
Searched from forgetfulness, they brought to me 
All that was left in earth of memory, 
Mere shreds of tapestry, once fit to deck 
Valhalla's walls, now unto tatters gone. 
A task so simply done it shames the hand 
That would give artful setting to the tale, 
And bids the teller keep it to the key 
Of the old blacksmith's shop, where it was told 
By men whose hearts were true as ever knights 
To noble doing and forgetfulness 
Of valiant deeds long done. So I will patch 
The tatters of their story as I may; 
Chink up the empty places as we mend 

Augusta 145 

A Phidian marble with our best of clay, 
And bid our fancy make it once more whole. 

It is our sorry choice to let men die 

Unto forgetfulness, or keep them near 

As mummies swaddled in the winding-sheet 

We name our histories, or sugared round 

With song as bees in honey ; yet they 're safe — 

The far away. Their stateliness goes on 

Swift through the boundless spaces, or they bide 

Now here, now there, in stars that may not send 

Their glint across the deep. It harms them not 

That we shape dolls and name them with their names, 

And bid those puppets dance for our delight 

Above the weary clods that we tread here, 

Upon this earthball that was once a star, 

Now lit by borrowed light. Yea, we may do 

Our will with all those shadows, coin their dust 

To fill our empty purses, tread our stage 

Decked in their semblances, for they are far 

And reck not of our doing. 


'T is a September night ; 'neath harvest moon 
The fields are sleeping, burthened with the grain 
The reapers have forgot, for they lie far 
As soldiers in war-lines, or 'neath the sod 
Waiting God's call to arms. The way is still 
As sands of untrod desert, for the folk 
Have fled before the withering blast of war 
As Yore volcano's breath ; and this fair realm, 
Shaped by its Maker for the joy of man 
And home of His content, all empty lies 
As in the primal night. Yea, it is still 
As place of graves should be 'neath silent moon 
That sends it ghost of day. 

Now comes the beat 
Of horse-hoofs muffled by the dusty road, 
And there the rider creeping warily, 
Watching the dark as one who knows 't will shape 
The Satan he awaits. See, 't is a lad, 
A white-faced lad, who peers into the deep, 
Fearful but brave. And now he reins his horse 
Upon the crest of overlooking hill. 
There in the south, where shadowy earth and sky 
Meet in night's mystery, in sky and earth 
We hear with him the clamour of a host 
Swift coming on — the beat of iron hoofs, 

The Story 147 

The clank of cannon-wheels, the bugle's cry- 
That sways a might swift onward. See, yon vale 
Is peopled with a throng lit by the glint 
Of fire beaten from the horses' feet ; 
And now it breasts the steep, and now its might 
Hurls like a lava tide with scorching breath 
On to the north away. 

This ancient world 
Knoweth its Lord in splendours ; in His storms, 
His whirlwinds, and His rage of sea and land; 
But never mightier than in thunderbolts 
Sent thus in night from out the clouds of war. 
But nobler sight it knows in that lad's face, 
Fear-drawn but steadfast, as he counts that host 
Sweeping from dark to dark. Then on its front 
The score of keen-eyed watchers, horse and man 
Seeking for ambush, ready for the blows 
That rend the mask of peril. But a score — 
Yet with the might to break the stoutest line 
And bear account of it. They chaff our lad, 
And laugh to hear him quaver in his fear ; 
They reckon not with his accounting eyes, 
Nor with the hidden star that holds his soul 
Straight to its purpose in his world of fear. 
Next, half a furlong's space, swift surging on, 
Comes troop on troop, the centre of the foe, 
Hard-visaged centaurs, knit of man and horse 
For bitterest deeds of war ; and then the guns, 
Leaping like leashed dogs as on they go. 

148 The Story 

And after them a space, and then the troop 
That Tends pursuit and gives the centre time 
To turn and send its stroke. 

Would ye be men 
Who knew but sheltering roof-trees, Yore ye die 
Hie ye as our brave lad into the night 
To scout a coming foe, and pray the Lord 
That He lend ye the valour of that boy 
To stay your quaking hearts till task is done. 

Quick as the rear-guard 's by, the lad 's away 
O'er field and fence with half his task well done 
And courage for what waits ; on to the town, 
Where well he knows the host will need make halt 
And ready for their purpose — there to learn 
Whereon the stroke shall fall. 

Swift through the town 
The vanguard sweeps, in emptiness to find 
That danger lurks not there. Quick all the ways 
Are sentinelled, and the far-ranging scouts 
Explore the woods and vales. In comes the host, 
Puts off its war shape, is for while a throng 
Of merry men who lie about their fires 
Or mend old hurts and gear. With them our lad 
Is helping cheerily, when to him comes 
The grizzled vanguard's captain : " Hi ! " he cries, 
" Here is the boy we scared into the hedge. 
So now, my lad, you '11 go along with us, 
You '11 show us to the ford, and have a chance 

The Story 149 

Of a fine frolic when we 're over there. 

Duke has a way with boys that makes them men ; 

So in a jiffy he will handle you 

Into a soldier." Idle quirk and jeer 

Well conned soon tell our lad that they are forth 

Unto the north, to be a banner there 

For treason's hosts that wait but men to lead — 

A chosen band, each fit to captain men 

So that their might would hundred-fold in ranks 

To sunder east from west and set a wall 

From the Ohio's verge to Erie's shore. 

They hail their task as done, for well they know 

No force stays 'fore them, and they '11 ride so swift 

That they '11 announce their coming with their guns, 

And have dismay for ally as they go 

Straight to their mighty purpose. 

Now our lad, 
His message in his heart, has but to hie 
So swift he may to give it. Forth he slips, 
Sending farewell with beat of horse's hoofs, 
As on he speeds to bear his warning home. 
The foemen guess his errand, bugles cry 
Swift warning to the sentries ; but straight on 
He rides, as rides the dove that cleaves the air 
And cares not for its storms. Straight on, swift on, 
Unheeding challenge, 'scaping from their shot, 
For valour shakes the aim of dauntless men, 
Or makes them willing that the hero pass 
To his far destiny. 

150 The Story 

On, on, straight on 
He leaps into the dark, but with the day 
Blazing in his young heart ; for he hath won 
His battle with hard danger, for the spy 
Knows noose about his neck a chance may draw 
To choke his life out. Swiftly now the foe 
Sounds " Boot and saddle/' shapes again his force, 
Half daunted by the deed that tells him men 
Are set athwart his path. Then forth they march 
As those who wait on danger, warily, 
With clutch of arms and heart for all that night 
Hath in it hid. 

Oh, it is fine to ride 
As rode our lad headlong adown the way 
On steed spurred hard by foeman's grazing shot, 
And with the night to hurl a score of miles 
As dust from his swift heels ; to know you Ve won 
What men will count stout winning ; know you '11 

The shout, " To arms ! " as you cry out, " They 

come ! 
So down the Augusta way our lad sweeps on 
With heart that beats to music of the leaps 
Of the brave steed that bears him. For he knows 
How well he wins the minutes from the foe 
To give his comrades chance to set their fight. 
Proved soldier, comrade, now, though forth he went 
Mere lad upon his errand yester eve, 
To win the end a lad alone could win. 

The Story 151 

Who had the seed of man hid in the child, 
An hour's peril would to manhood spring. 

Afar the farmers hearkened to the cry 

His horse's hoofs sent, knowing it announced 

The coming of the foe ; knowing as men 

Who generations on are bred in war 

The tocsin in those foot-beats ; so they arm, 

Saddle their horses, and fling after him, 

Alone, yet with the sturdy company 

Of deeds that wait their doing. 

Now our youth 
Sees where the hills stoop to the noble vale, 
And far away its river rolling on 
The gold the moontide sends it. There he sees 
The darkened village, sees its lights awake 
As watchers hark his coming; reckon swift 
His message in his speed. Now 't is done, 
This first act of that tragedy plain men 
Set on their simple stage to tell us how 
Their roof-trees cradle valour and their toil 
Harvests brave duty from their well-tilled earth. 
Rein-drawn, his faithful steed sinks down. The might 
That bore him as a tempest — might of sires 
Who 'd horsed the faith of Christ 'gainst Mussulmans 
Beneath the Hammer's flag — once more was forth 
In toil that dumb heart knew the master willed 
And that in it was duty ; so they 've borne 
Their kinsmen to their glory, shared their deeds, 
To sleep with them upon immortal fields. 

152 The Story 

Over his fallen horse the messenger 
Steps to the waiting Bradford, — leader there 
Because the Lord had set him for the task 
That should be done upon this bit of earth, — 
And tells his story in the words, " They come ! " 

" How many and how near? " 

" Eight hundred strong, 
Picked men from Morgan's force. They will be here 
Long afore sun-up." 

" What want they of us ? " 

" They 're for the ford ; they care not for the town ; 
They reckon on their fighting over there, 
And on a lot to help them." 

"Ah, my boy, 
We Ve one more man in you, and use for him. 
Go now to bed : you '11 wake when it is time, 
For more man's doing. — Call our men to arms ! " 

Ye who have heard the long roll whir the air 

As wings of angel Death, and seen men spring 

With clutch at arms and heart, — all else forgot 

Save the swift summons and the bidding stern 

Unto the place to die, — ye go with me 

Upon a hard-worn way of memory 

Trod deep by war. Your dull ears hear the drums, 

Your dim old eyes again as in this light 

Of sinking moon behold a tumult shape 

Swift to the ordered lines ; and then the call 

Of name by name and the sharp answer, " Here ! " 

The Story 153 

That tells each man is true. So came our host, 
The motley host that swarmed before the house 
Whereto they came for justice; where they had 
Election frolics, heard their orators 
Set forth the citizen. — Look well at them — 
Old grizzled men and white-faced stripling boys, 
With here and there a fellow who had lagged, 
For all the soldier in him, from the field 
Because his dull wit showed him not the way 
The Lord would have him go. — Mayhap six score, 
A " home guard " such as fighting men despise, 
Not worth the sniff of powder, touch of steel, 
'T would take to scatter them. But look again — 
See in that ragged row the stuff of men 
Keen-eyed, set-faced, with that still waiting look 
Of our stern race's war-lines. By each stands 
The host that sent him here across the deep 
The generations span. They are not lone, 
But backed by spectres far off as the stars 
But with their might to sway. 

Ye who have scanned 
The firm-set ranks that watched a coming foe, 
Waiting the stroke as patient as the rock 
Waits for the thundering sea, know how true hearts, 
Who never knew a fight save in their souls, 
Swift weld in battle's heat to wall of man, 
That sturdy ancient of all warring days 
Who serves the mastering will. 

There for a while 

154 The Story 

The grim physician, treading silently, 
Reckons the coming task and sees that all 
Is ready for it. Then for the words that stay 
Above the battle's thunder in the soul 
And hold it to true purpose. " Hear, my men, 
This message from the Lord. He sends to us 
Nigh to a thousand chosen from the best, 
From Morgan's men who but a week ago 
Crushed thrice their force at Cynthiana ford, 
Led by their greatest captain, Basil Duke : 
They come not for us ; they but seek the way 
Across the river. We may let them pass 
Unharmed unto their end, to see o'er there 
A host of skulking traitors join their flag 
And master all the land to Canada ; 
See all our brothers who have battled on 
To 'fend our State from ravage hopeless fall 
Before this doubled treason. Let them there, 
And all this war is ended in a stroke. 
The nation 's dead, and we may to our beds 
And sleep in peace until we find our graves 
By men who died to build it. What 's your will ? 
To hide you in your cellars- — let them pass ? 
Or die on this dear ground for chance to save 
What makes it dear to us ? " Then from the dark 
Quakes a faint-hearted "Let the gunboats fight, — 
They 're strong enough for it, — while we will go 
Across the river. There we '11 have a chance 
To shoot them, if they struggle to the shore ; 

The Story 155 

Here we '11 be trapped like rats." Again the man 
Set there as master : " Count not on those boats — 
I 've seen their crews and captains ; they will run 
So soon the fight begins. Yea, I would send 
The blustering lot to bottom if I could. 
And leave us here alone to take what comes. — 
If we have mind to do it, here's the place 
For faithful dying ; here beside our homes 
On old Kentucky ground. See where we stand 
And reckon it as men. Shall we die here 
For chance to maul them so they will not dare 
To try the crossing, or shall we here live 
So long we may as cowards who 've forgot 
All that our fathers gave us ? If we fight, 
We '11 reckon that we fall. It 's five to one, 
And they our brothers in all save their aim. 
Their leader Duke 's a man, and he will drive 
Straight as the Devil to his end. See well 
What the beginning means, and leave the rest 
To God who sets us here." Still quavered out 
The plaint of him who longeth for dear life : 
" Where is the need, O captain, that we die 
Here by our doors ? " Then from the ranks there 

The sturdy blacksmith, he who smites his way 
With the hot iron, forging metal good 
In shape for valiant use: "Yea, we '11 stand here, — 
Here where the Lord hath set us for His work ; 
We '11 lay them on the anvil and smite hard. 

156 The Story 

Let those who Ve mind to skulk go o'er the ford, 
Or hide them in the woods, but we '11 stay here 
And hammer out our job until we quench 
Our iron in the tub." 

Then for a while 
The ranks are silent in the way of men 
Who chew the cud of peril, harking back 
On life's dear ways and forward to the realms 
Made dear by hopes to come ; then to the quest 
Of what their manhood bids them do where now 
Grim fate hath set upon them in the night 
That shadows war-lines. Ay, so true men bow 
Their souls in silence Yore hard destiny, 
Until He sendeth dawn to light the sky 
And lift their burthened hearts — answer to prayer 
That pleads for star in token of His will. 
Then as of old in many a waiting night 
Came prophet from the dark as prophets come, 
Robed in simplicity of common man, 
Who knelt him down, went bravely to the Lord 
With prayer He ever heeds. 

As they raise 
Their bowed heads from their prayer and look away, 
As is the wont of men when hearts are wide 
Because He dwells in them, far in the east 
Strides forth the splendour of the coming morn 
With day's commandment to His servitors 
To gird them for His tasks. None cry, " Behold ! 
The Lord is with us in the work to do ! " 

The Story 157 

None knew in his dumb soul a might had come 
To stay beside him and to bear away 
His soul with earth's tasks done ; yet now each one 
Draws closer to his neighbour, knows the light 
Of a new morning glows where the dark had lain 
Upon the way of faith. 

Then their leader spoke 
Last word of counsel : " Men, here is the day, 
And we are ready for it. We dare set 
No line to meet them, for they 'd wrap us in. 
Go to your houses ; ye '11 the better fight 
Beside your hearthstones. Take the leaders first ; 
If they go down, the rest will never dare 
To try the ford. See there upon the hill 
Their vanguard halts, and up there comes the sun. 
Now be the Lord with us as with our sires. 
Swift to your places." 

The wide earth is still. 
The night mists linger in the noble vale, 
Folding their shadowy tents. The mighty stream, 
Gold in the moonlight, golden yet by day 
With sheaved tide of myriad far-off springs, 
Goes silent downward to the waiting sea ; 
Upon its bank the village with its roofs 
Catches the glint of sun. Along the plain 
By riverside and on the stately hills 
Are fields of ripened corn that lift to sky 
Their offering of peace. Yea, all is well 
With earth and sky and stream. They know their Lord, 

158 The Story 

They bow them Yore His might, and reck not of 
The immortal woe of man. 

There in the sun, 
Sharing the morning's glory with the woods 
That stretch their sheltering arms for wayfarers, 
Swift shape the ranks of war. Now bugles shout 
Far challenge and commands. The ranged guns 
Flash out, and through the quivering air their shell 
Stoop as swift falcons to the ships in stream 
To wake their coward answer in wild fire. 
Awhile the hills and sky quake with the roar, 
And then the recreant crews turn in mad flight; 
Scarce singed by the battle, forth they go, 
Beaten by fear upon the dastards' way. 
Hear the hurrah that greets this victory 
Thus easy won, for now the foe sees wide 
The gate unto the north — a cheer that bears 
Their hearts far on their way. Their lines are closed, 
All 's ready for the mighty rage to sweep 
Straightway to further shore. Wide is the stream, 
But on its breast the troubled waters show 
The hidden bridge the horses will stride o'er 
As easy as a brook. Their leader calls 
Unto his captains, " Ready for the ford ! " 
Then to his gunners, " Fire upon the town ! 
They dare to keep their flag ! " The cannon play 
Their rain of death, and yet no answer comes 
From out that silence. 

Then with the Rebel yell, 

The Story 159 

That ringing cry that overtopped the roar 

On many an olden field, the avalanche 

Of valiant hope sweeps onward down the steep 

Upon the silent hamlet — all so still 

It seemed a painted village, with a man 

Lone waiting in its street. As they ride on 

Their shouts' die out, and men who 'd known no fear 

In charging o'er hot cannon know it now 

In sense of waiting death. E'en their horses know, 

For bred in them, too, is the sense of war 

That smites their riders, telling that before 

Crouches a mighty peril ; see, they rear 

And swerve away, but onward they are swept 

As bubbles on a surge. 

Now that lone man, 
Our leader Bradford, who had scanned that tide 
With planted feet and heart immovable, 
Watching the fatal moment, gives the word. 
Swift from each hold rings out, " Make ready — Fire ! " 
Now breaks that surge of war upon the clirT 
Of steadfast valour ; down the front ranks go, 
Rider and horse, and o'er them wave on wave 
Roars madly on the wreck ; dead and alive 
Are tossing in that ruin. Rifles play 
From every crevice till the heap is stilled. 
Swift ring the foeman's bugles, harking back 
Their beaten ranks to safety. Once again 
There bides that waiting silence o'er the town — 
It is a stroke to daunt e'en veteran hearts, 

160 The Story 

And yet our leader knoweth with his men 
It is but moment's respite they have won, 
'Fore craftier assault. Ay, they know well 
That those who set on them are kinsmen true 
And take hard strokes as lessons ; con them swift 
And mend the next they give. There is no shout 
Of victory for fight that's but begun ; 
But quick they turn to action ; lay their dead 
As fitly dead should lie ; help wounded ; search 
Their fallen foes for chance to stay the life 
That ebbs away — to find it shelter good 
From searching storms to come. ' T is bitter work 
That sieged men must do when comes a lull 
In war that beats on them. Soon all is done 
That willing hearts can do for friend and foe. 
The master of their deeds knows well that Duke 
Will try no more assault, but ring them in, 
Fire the houses, bid his cannoneers 
Rend from afar, smite one by one their holds, 
So winning to his end — and yet he sees 
The half is done, for such stroke daunts the best, 
Slakes bravest hunger for a far emprise. 
There in that gruesome heap is laid the tithe 
And forefront of his valour and his trust. 
Yea, they must fall, but down with them they '11 bear 
To earth their nation's peril. So his words 
Give cheer and counsel : " Men, it was well done, — 
" A good first heat ; the next will try our wind. 
Cling to your houses ; let each be a fort 

The Story 161 

To hold unto the last. Fight to the end : 

We '11 find our winning there. They are hard hit : 

Another blow like that and they will break 

And never try the ford. Here they come on." 

There in wide circling lines the skirmishers 

Creep down the slope ; from every vantage send 

Their shot upon the town, and back of them. 

Now all afoot, the main line of the host, 

Wary from hard-learned lesson. Still they 're far, 

Mere flecks and fringes on the fields ; but see, 

They feel the nip, for here and there a fleck 

Drops as a marksman's rifle rings, to bide 

As on his fellows go, unshaken on, 

Swift rushing in the open, with scant pause 

In sheltering coverts while they send their fire, 

As if a great wind blew them to their death. 

Now stumbling o'er their dead they win the street, 

Break in the doors to find rude welcome there 

From shot and steel. Swift are the portals blocked 

By those who fall, while from the windows hurled 

To smite the surging throng come shapes of men, 

The dead of friend and foe. Their leader sees 

He 's spending all in vain save for the help 

That Satan lends him in the ready torch. 

Yea, he would spare that woe, for in his heart 

Stays true man's tenderness for worthy foe 

No rage of battle downs. But he knows well 

His hard task is to win ; to find ally 

If needs from deepest Hell. " Quick with the fire ! " 

1 62 The Story 

He calls unto his men : " Burn every house, 
So they will have to face us." 

Why so far, 
Grim master, went ye seeking nether Hell 
Down the vast circlings of deep buried ways 
That never know the sun, when in the light 
Of harvest morn, wherever harvests wait, 
That shame burns 'fore men's eyes ; when every year 
That rounds with sickle, binds within its sheaves 
A sorer tale of woe than thou canst paint 
With all Hell's scorch upon thee — with thy pen 
Dipped in its burning lime? Behold this scene, 
All ye who would know torment. There's a town, 
Each house a temple built with toil and hope, 
Roaring in flame, and they, the ministers, 
The mothers, fathers, children, old, and babes, 
Who tended altars for the eternal God, 
Smote by the Devil's hosts — their fellow men. 
Why shame earth's ordered depths with phantasies 
Limned from the Hell that liveth but in man ? 
Why picture Satan in that far abyss, 
When thou dost know him throned within thy heart 
So soon the Christ is spurned ? Poor fool, poor fool ! 
Leave fancied deeps and painted realms of woe, 
Scorch eyes and soul right here. See 'mid that flame 
The fleeing women hugging babes to breast, 
Or bending o'er their lovers for a word 
Ere word can come no more from closing deep ; 
Sore wounded men, who spend the last of life 

The Story 163 

In one more slaying stroke. Hear that wild cry 
Of those 'neath burning rafters, prisoned there, 
Singed with the flame, yet roaring forth their joy 
Whene'er their rifles slay. 

Hast thou yet eyes 
And soul unscorched to look, know then thou art 
Thyself the Satan. For, alas ! we know 
That men may do his work and yet be men 
When the dear Christ comes back ; but he who looks 
Unblinded on it is the lonely one, 
The lord of shame. 

Still turn once more, behold, 
When day smites through this night, in shape of man 
Scarred, blackened, bleeding by the demon's work, 
Who stumbling creeps through ruin of his house 
Lapped by the eager flame, yet bearing out 
A stricken foeman, lays him tenderly 
Upon the reddened sward and vainly strives 
To stay the life-tide ; when the last sob comes, 
Straightens the limbs and covers up the face, 
Leaving the youth to sleep : then weary-eyed 
Sets him again to slaughter. 

Now send eyes 
Once more into that night and its hard flame, 
See there a home such as the morn looks on 
And knows wherefor it comes to light this world : 
A little house girt in by autumn flowers 
That waited frost in patient loveliness, 
Sure of their errand done, — for they Ve been fair, — 

164 The Story 

With might of man and woman's tenderness, 

Dear joy of cradle and dear hope past death, 

Crowning its roof-tree. Ere upon it rolls 

That lava tide of war to shrivel up 

All that hath made it temple of the Lord, 

There by that window see the youth who rode 

In that long, long ago of yester eve, 

With heart of boy to bear the load of man ; 

Swift, hard-faced, grim as ever brutal fate 

Shaped instrument for slaying ; yea, a child, 

Yet with war's hell in heart. Hear thence the ring 

Of shot on shot and mark how his strokes tell, 

However far the aim. Now the smote foe 

Find whence that smiting — hurl upon the house 

And swift break way within. And there 's a cry 

That sobbing dies away — a cry of child 

That fears the dark. 

So on, forever on, 
Amid the surging flame the battle sweeps. 
The shouting dies away : there 's scant breath left 
For silent grapple and the stroke that slays. 
Yea, it is still save for the roaring flame, 
The tread of hurrying feet, the hard-drawn sigh 
Wherewith the life goes out ; for all is spent 
Of shot and powder, and their guns are clubbed 
For what of stroke their weary hands can send. 
See, there the living fall beside the dead 
Spent in the fearful doing — like to die 
And praying for their peace. 

The Story 165 

Hark ! now there ring 
Once more the foeman's bugles, keen and high, 
Insensate shout of triumph. So hath brass 
Adown the thousand years cried victory 
To ears that hear not and to ears that hear, 
Shouting the lie, " We Ve won ! " — See now they come, 
The sorry remnant of that noble host, 
Creeping unto their standards, shrunk and wan, 
Their souls borne down with shame for victory 
Paid with that price, alike of friend and foe. 
Ay, they are beaten, victors though they stand 
Upon that field of shame, for in their hearts 
The drums and trumpets wake no more the cry 
For eager onward deeds. Their faces tell, 
Grimed and tear-stained, the weariness of death 
That dreams of peace afar by firesides 
In light of kindred eyes. No more of war, 
Of glory past yon ford — no more of earth, 
Save in that silent place where men may rest 
Waiting the angel's trump. Ay, they are men : 
The demon is away. Their leader rides 
Silent along the line; reading what's writ 
In those bowed shapes he chose for veteran's work ; 
Reading in his own heart what's writ so plain 
That every man hath read: that 'tis the end 
Of all that wondrous vision ; where a stroke 
Straight to the heart should slay the ills of war 
And win his people peace. Yet he must count 
As does the trusty soldier; reckon well 

1 66 The Story 

With fate that stands afore him : of his men 
A third are on the earth ; of officers 
There stand but three before him fit to lead 
Those men unfit to follow. Then he asks, 
"What of our ammunition is there left?" 
The answer comes, " All 's spent ; there 's not a round 
Left in our pouches, and the enemy 
Burnt his last cartridge 'fore we bore him down." 
Now for a while that leader silent looks 
Over the smouldering ruins to the hills 
That lift beyond the river, in that morn 
So crowned with hope — this eve with hope so far, 
And in its place despair. He fronts a deep 
Impassable, by beaten foemen delved, 
Wherein his cause hath found its hapless grave. 
Then longingly again to his men's eyes, 
As if to find in them the will to share 
In venture wild that shapes in his despair 
To try with fate a leap into that gulf. 
He sees but beaten men. 

And now he turns 
To where our Bradford kneels beside a man, 
A stricken foeman, who hath life to save ; 
Looks long on him, with heart that by him kneels, 
Then in bowed speech, " My doctor, you have won. 
We are the beaten ; though we keep our swords, 
You have our hearts. With you we leave our dead, 
Our wounded, knowing well that you will care 
For them as for their brothers, once our foes." 

The Story 167 

The busy doctor answers with a nod, 

With eyes still on his task. So came the end. 

Once more cry out the bugles, and the lines 

Unfold and roll them weary up the steep, 

Down which they came with morning in their hearts. 

The sun hies to its setting, wrapped in gold ; 
The river goes as it in morning went, 
Bearing the tide of earth and faith of men 
Forth to the waiting sea. Ay, myriad springs 
From the far hills are blent within its tide 
To know the light of day, the stars of night, 
And then the eternal deep where sun and stars 
Shine on forever. As they onward flow 
By that untrodden ford there comes a rill, 
New broken from the everlasting mounts, 
To join its brothers on the way to sea, 
And on all flow together, past our sight 
To memory's deep. 

Far, far away, 
We hear those bugles as the marching host 
Passeth into the night. Forever on 
In hearts that strove with them to fatal goal, 
Or stood against their might. 

Now we are back 
In that old blacksmith's shop with grimy walls, 
Where scraps of iron hang on rusty nails, 
Wait for their pennyworth of dirty use ; 
Floor rubbish-strewn, and windows with the dust 

1 68 The Story 

Of forty years upon them ; cheap and drear 
After the manner of the life of man 
Lived on this earthy world. Again we see 
Those five hard-visaged, bent old men, 
The remnant of that mighty deed of long agone, 
When for a day they with their comrades found 
The might that dwells in men ; looked once afar 
Through the dark gate of death unto the realm 
Where God lives on forever ; then turned their eyes 
Back to the commonplace and knew no more 
The gateways of the soul ; content to bide 
So long they might within the simple house 
Whose portals are the cradle and the grave, 
With chimney place for altar. So we judge, 
We who dwell in our palaces that look 
Far o'er the deeps, and for our servitors 
Have all the noble hosts of ages gone 
To guide us on far ways ; to bid our souls 
Upon the gracious paths of fellowship 
With all that 's pure and high. 

All was not told 
I 'd journeyed far to hear, for yet I saw 
There by my side the shade of him who stood 
In noble substance two-score years ago 
Near to my heart : as he would be assoiled 
And to his rest, but waited till I heard 
How came his passing. So I said to them 
Who opened me the gates they looked not in, 
" Tell me of Prentice. He was dear to me, 

The Story 169 

The dearer for the parting that had come 
Before death sealed it." Then the sinner spoke, 
His hard old face aglow : " Why, damn it, sir, 
He was the darn'dest fighter of us all ; 
He led in every rush, smashed through our doors 
Like a mad bull, and swept our people out. 
He was the Devil's broom. But he fought fair, 
With no mean tricks. I saw him lift a man, 
One of our side, who 'd stumbled and was trod 
Beneath their feet, set him upon his legs, 
And cuff him to our line. He would not strike 
A chap who could not face him. Many did 
To take good whack in front. Oh, we tried hard 
To down him, but the Devil helped him on, 
And made our rifles popguns when we sought 
To find his heart, and our stout bayonets 
Broom-straws before his sword." 

All that I knew 
In knowing him ; knew that it was as man 
He did the Satan's work, with here and there 
A glint from soul. So questioned I again 
Of the dear sinner : " Tell me of the end ; 
Where was he slain and how ? " And then all turned 
Unto the ancient blacksmith, as they felt 
'T was his to tell the story. For a while 
He sadly looked away with half-closed eyes 
And pinched face, as those who feel the glare 
Of a hard flame ; then gently said to me, 
"He was your friend, I 'm sure you loved him well, 

170 The Story 

For never was a fairer youth than he 

Or manlier in man's deeds. He came to death 

Upon a landing in a burning house ; 

All who charged with him lay upon the stair 

Wrapped in the flame, along with those who held 

Against that brave assault ; alone he came, 

Sore wounded but a mighty soldier still, 

Upon the master of the house, who was 

The last of its defenders. There he fell, 

Shot through the head. So soon as he was down 

The master turned to fly, for time was scant 

With fire all about ; but back he came, 

To listen at the heart of that brave foe. 

Life was yet there, and so he bore him out, 

Laid him upon the grass, and saw him die. 

That night he made a coffin, washed the dead, 

And buried him on slope of yonder hill 

Beside his comrades and our brethren. 

Two days thereafter, when the mother came, 

He washed it once again and gave it her, 

For she would take it home." 

Then as I looked 
On his averted face I read the rest. 
He was the master of the house who told 
The way that Prentice died. Dear simple art 
To save his neighbour from the pain he 'd give 
In saying, " Here 's the man who slew thy friend : " 
Mayhap in part to spare himself the woe 
Of opening once again the long-healed grave 

The Story 171 

Where he had earthed his dead. Ah, reasons vain ; 
It was his nature did it. 

Ye who dwell 
With all the noble hosts of vanished days 
Match that man's doing from their storied deeds ; 
From out your palace windows see ye aught 
That better shows how true hearts beat than this 
Rude simple tale of valour and of faith, 
That dwelt in that plain man ? 

Awhile none spoke, 
For all our hearts were sore ; but in the gleam 
Of the December eve I saw the shade 
That long had stood beside me fade away, 
For now the noble story was all told 
And his good peace was won. 

The sun was set 
Upon the last day of a hundred years 
When forth I went along Augusta's street 
From that strange parley with those five old men, — 
Saw there such folk as I had known of old, 
A weary rustic lot that made that name 
So linked with ancient splendours seem a crown 
Set on a beggar's head. Caesars and Rome 
And the vast memories of vanished days 
Bide in that word. But when I looked again, 
I saw the crown had 'neath it a new king : 
The Roman knew not when the Tiber ran 
By the Augustan city. That here stood 
The citizen she dreamed of: plain, blunt man, 

172 The Story 

Content to dwell all simply in his fields, 
But ever ready for hard duty's tasks 
With plough or sword ; who counted death as naught, 
If commonwealth lived on. Ay, 't was well named, 
This simple hamlet by the western stream, 
For there men judged right well 't was fit to die 
And went as men to death ; they did brave deeds 
And then were still. 


'T is in a far-off summer day, 
By a mountain pass that 's as far away 
From our life all busied in little deeds, 
With its languid hungers and trifling greeds, 
As is that ancient summer day. 

Far time and place, — yet far place and time 

Lend them well to the lover's rhyme, 

If there and then was the work of men, 

Done as men do it faithfully well, 

With clear eyes that see to the promised lands, 

God's trust in their hearts, His might in their hands 

For all that them befell. 

'T is a rugged host for a rude time's tasks, 

Where the saints are few and the sinners many ; 

At his dirty booth the Devil asks 

For such no more than his dirty penny. 

Yet that old Satan knows well his wares, 

For all the scorching that 's on their hides, 

Are but his without and the Lord's within ; 

That spite of their blackness, their grime, and their 

Deep in their hearts His grace abides. 

174 Cumberland Gap 

'T is on the path where the pioneers trod 
A century gone when they followed the sun 
Into the wilds, for else guides there were none, — 
Save trust in their thews and trust in their God, — 
Breaking their way straight on for their souls : 
Slayers of woods and smiters of men. 
Edge of the axe and tip of the spear 
That hath hewn and smote for a thousand year 
The way of our kind to its far-off goals. 

So they of old won to Cumberland Gap, 

Leaving a trail for their brothers to follow ; 

A nick in the range, as you see on the map, 

With many a peak and many a hollow ; 

With one deep rent in its castled crest, 

An open door to the unknown west. 

Straight onward they went, those breakers of ways, 

Hunting for gates of unconquered realms, 

Seeking their kings, — yea, the task of earth's days 

Is to build and to bide for the mastering men. 

So the brave take it, and so it was done, 

And all that fair land to the setting of sun 

Was had for the asking of souls that dared ask 

And questioned not fate how hard was their task; 

But who set one foot forward and then set the other, 

In the manner of men who know earth as a mother, 

Trusting her bosom for nurture and sleep, 

Clutching her gifts, and ready to keep 

All of her giving by giving their all. 

Cumberland Gap 175 

With sun in heaven 
And good earth neath their feet, they built a realm 
Founded so well that naught could o'erwhelm 
Save the entombing sea of lust and greed 
That surges round our firmest. Their fair seed, 
Planted in trust, grows to good earth, and grows 
An hundred-fold of yield. 

A hundred years 
They delved and planted, reaped their goodly fields, 
Went trusting to their graves, bequeathed to sons 
The task of staying what their fathers shaped, 
With faith and might to face the dooming sea 
Whene'er it burst upon them. Trusting well ; 
For here now stand their children, ranked in arms, 
Looking upon the way their fathers trod, 
Eastward from that fair portal whence those sires 
Saw their vast empire dim and far away, 
Yet near their conquering hearts — watching that deep 
For ill that sweeps unto them. Looking far 
Over the valley of the Tennessee — 
A noble vale, so wide that range on range 
Of shadowy mountains sleep within its fold, 
And many a river singing to the sea 
Glints in the sun as to and fro it sways 
Through its broad meads, as it were loath to go 
From all the fairness it had won from earth. 
Now where those fathers found no sentinels 
But stately ordered pines, no fortresses 
Save for the craggy steeps that wind and rain 

176 Cumberland Gap 

Are wont to carve in shape of ancient holds 

As they would tell to man that earth was made 

For sturdy battle 'gainst its ceaseless storms : 

Behold great ramparts set with mighty guns 

That silent wait, and grimly look afar 

Whereto they may hurl death. There by them tread 

The watchful sentries, scanning hill and vale 

For what men wait in war. And far below 

Cluster the tents and cabins of a host, 

Three thousand men set there to hold that pass 

'Gainst an embattled deep. 

It is the morn : 
Far in the east the day comes surging up 
Over the noble peaks that frame the sky — 
Vast mountains rude and stern ; grim warriors, 
Who ages on have faced forgotten seas 
And hurled them from this land ; yea, keeping well 
Their ward of earth for man, until he came 
To watch and care with them this heritage 
To the eternal garner. 

The sentinel 
Upon yon waiting rampart treads his beat 
With keen eyes set where in the glint of morn 
He waits the front of swift on-coming war 
Over this realm of peace. For well he knows 
That from the Atlantic's shore it westward sweeps 
Over that olden path the pioneers 
Broke through the wilderness upon their way 
To win their commonwealth. He watches well 

Cumberland Gap 177 

In that hard manner of this villain man, 

When flash from sky hath set his heart afire 

With the old flame of war. See how he halts, 

Brings musket to a ready, while he peers 

To the far verge, where half-score miles away 

There comes a twinkling, like the sun on waves, 

Upon the mountain's crest. Naught else he sees, 

No shape of man or horse ; but all is told 

In those swift flashes writ on far-off sky, 

In glint of bayonets. So now he calls 

The corporal of his guard, and swift the word 

Goes on the ready ways of ordered hosts, 

And in a trice the leader by him stands, 

His hand above his eyes. A moment more, 

At foot of hill down which the glintings flow 

There leap up in the air thin jets of cloud 

That curl as smoke from chimneys to the vault. 

Then comes the answer, where that twinkling halts 

Before our outposts. Still but smoke and gleam, 

Even to eyes that Galileo armed 

With sights of gods. Yea, men are little things, 

Seen thus afar save for the mighty deeds 

That bridge the empty spaces. Earth and time 

Look else as atomies, all meaningless, 

That find in voids fit place. 

Now it sweeps on, 
That unseen might, 'whelming the few who hold 
Hopeless against its coming save to tell 
To foe what waits, to friends what cometh on, 

178 Cumberland Gap 

Winning a little time for those swift needs 
That press on sieged men. The bugles flare. 
The drums are whirring, and the couriers speed 
Adown the ways to call far outposts home, 
And swift ride forth five hundred chosen men 
To stay their comrades in their fight for time. — 

The laden wagons wrestle up the steep, 

Filled high with provender for man and beast ; 

The herdsmen drive their cattle to near folds 

Within the cannon's play, and wailing goes 

Forth to the rear that train of misery, 

The wounded, women, babes, that hie away 

From hold that shuts its gates, to fight and starve 

So long the Devil wills it. Axes ring, 

Felling the trees across the open ways, 

While ready torches fire each house and barn 

So that the foe shall find a desert where 

The sun looked down on plenty. Now 'tis done, 

The fortress set for siege, as o'er the ridge 

Stray in our skirmishers. It seems a rout 

Of scattered, beaten men who tumble back, 

Scurrying o'er fields and hedgerows in their plight, 

Now fleeing swift, now halting for hard fight 

Where two or three find chance, now striving on 

Where swiftly gathered scores, with charge sent home, 

Break through the on-coming line. So, stroke on stroke, 

That ordered rout the bravest work of war 

In the good vanguard fights, where every blow 

Cumberland Gap 179 

All hopeless for near winning 's struck for faith 
To brothers that it spares. Now a brave gun 
Perched high upon our hold with mouth to sky- 
Bays out wild welcome, while from its hot breath 
Sweeps mile up in the air a hurtling shell, 
Swinging as hawk upon the victor's host, 
That startled waits its stoop. And now the scream 
Of Satan, who bestrode it in the charge, 
Turns to victorious roar as swift it rends 
A path through that dun host ; so wide we see 
Adown it as a street. But one stroke daunts 
Even the bravest when it hurls from sky : 
So valour has no answer. In troop our men — 
Save those who dot the wayside of those miles — 
Beaten but stout of heart, for they have done 
The rear-guard's task right well — had good receipt 
For all their spending in the time they won, 
And token of it in the shout that hails 
Their coming to the fold. 

The halted foes 
Seek lodgement by the river where the hills 
Give shelter from our guns, in camps arrayed 
Beside their planted banners. 'T is swift done, 
For they are tentless, and they need but room 
To lay their weariness by that pure stream 
That washes ills away ; to build their fires 
And by their side find home. Awhile the host 
Waits 'twixt the acts. The leader with his train 
Of ready aides from yonder hill-top scans 

180 Cumberland Gap 

The wall that lies before him — wall of hearts 
That crests that mountain steep. Searches right well, 
As is the soldier's part, to probe the earth 
For hidden treasure in some chance to win 
His way unto the goal. Soon forth he sends 
The keen-eyed scouts to creep by twos and threes 
Through fields and forests, seeking for fit place 
Wherein to try surprise. Wide circling round, 
They close upon the fortress but to find 
Each nook and cranny with its sure defence ; 
They know the warders' hail in well-aimed shot 
Of purpose wild, to halt and not to slay; 
For the true soldier knows the comrade still 
When he must count the foe. They take the quirk 
Of many an outpost : " Ho, Johnny, we are here 
And hungry for you. Get out or come in, 
We're tired of your fooling." Steeps look plumb 
When half a mile up fellow veterans crouch 
In grinning patience, waiting till you come, 
What 's left unrent by cannon, blown and spent 
For last hard greeting at the rifle's mouth, 
Or spit of bayonet that hurls a chap 
A ragged bundle down the way he came. 
So through the day and night they do their part, 
That better than the battle tells the skill 
Of warring wits that play the ancient game 
With move and check until there comes a mate, 
And the great board is cleared for ventures new 
With other gambits. So upon the morn 

Cumberland Gap i 8 i 

The wary foemen, judging well their part, 

Sway to the west, — break through the ways that lead 

On to the north, leaving our fortress blocked 

By force to hold it sieged until it starves 

Unto its rendering. 

Ye who would find 
How dear to heart are hearts of fellow men 
We dumbly know are beating next our own, — 
Thumping response when our own pulses quick, 
Each knit to other, brave for this hard world 
In comrades' deeds, - — go set ye in a hold 
That yesterday was firm linked with a realm 
In common action as the body's parts ; 
To-day cast in the void as some far isle 
Tramped round by sieging waves, with never sail 
To give a glint of hope. 

Slow wore away 
The weary months where morn and noon and eve 
And all the nights we listened to that void 
For distant shot, for roll of drums, or cry 
Of far-off bugle telling comrades came 
To break our prison ; but it stayed all dumb, 
As if the deep had won again the realm 
That once knew men. 'T was all in vain we tried 
By morning foray or by night surprise 
To break that wall of silence, for the foe 
Hurled back the living remnants of our scouts 
Who crept in darkness forth with hope to slip 
Into the night away. No token came 

1 82 Cumberland Gap 

Save ring of watchful rifles, or the cry 

Of hopeless valour wrestling to brave death. 

So on and on, until one midnight time, 

When earth and heaven back to chaos went 

In the wild ravage of a mighty storm 

That cowed stout hearts and blinded wariest eyes 

With flame and thunder, so that miracles 

Seemed fittest happenings, our outposts found 

Dropped in their midst, or by the lightning sent, 

Shape of a man as men are shaped who Ve fought 

What earth and sky may send to beat them down 

With the true hero's might to bear them up 

Unto the goal where they may fitly die 

With good priest faith to shrive them. There he lay, 

Shot through and nigh to death, naked, and torn 

By thorn and thickets where he 'd dragged his wounds 

Through the beleaguering lines, — a mountaineer, 

Who fought and won his fight because he knew 

In his true warrior heart we hopeless starved 

Because we idly hoped when brave despair 

Should send us on as men. His life went out 

With his brief story, telling how the foe 

Had swept our hosts in ruin to the north, 

Until from Alabama to the shore 

Of the Ohio none held front Yore him ; 

That Buell's army in the wilds was lost — 

Lost even as were we to hope of all 

Who mustered swiftly for a last array : 

That gleaning of shorn fields that gathers all 

Cumberland Gap 183 

Of man's shape fit to set as hope forlorn 
In battle where lads fight because they 're men, 
In knowing death is better than life shamed 
By living overlong. By lightning's flash 
We saw peace come to him, and read it clear 
In the scant rags that clung about his limbs, 
He 'd borne our arms before he brought to us 
That message from the dark. 

The storm was by, 
And glorious morning swept up o'er the hills 
Bearing the valour of immortal sun 
As we laid in the earth that messenger 
Whose word lived in our hearts ; to lead us far 
O'er the vast wilderness, where brothers true 
Faced ruin for the lack of men here scotched 
As rats in hole. Once more we nosed our cage, 
Tried every way, to find our jailers there 
Well fed and merry, scoffing at our ghosts 
That dared to face them. Then we crept about, 
Picked over bone-heaps for some shred that 'scaped 
Hunger of yesterday; stewed haversacks, 
And searched our pockets for the chance of crumbs 
To eke out one more day ; heard from the foe 
A mighty shouting, telling us once more 
Of victories they hailed. Yea, we were low, 
Of earth's forlornest, who wait patiently 
The doom writ in the sky ; set in the stars 
That shape brave messages for happy men. 
Then came the master's hand, the brave, strong hand 

184 Cumberland Gap 

That wins strange might from trial, smiting hard 

When all of life seems out. He who had been 

For all the weary siege but ruler set 

To watch and chide ; to hunger too and grin, 

So that he shamed the weaklings when they drooped. 

The " old man " of our camp-fires, silent, grim, 

Much feared but little loved, stood forth the Lord 

To break our prison bars and let the day 

Into our hearts. 

The drums had beat tattoo, 
When from his tent went forth the orderlies 
Swift through the camp with word for all our men 
To make them ready forth to march ere day. 
To march, yea, willingly, straight to the sky 
Or straight away to Hell ; but how to fare 
As else than ghosts along those well-blocked ways, 
No living man could guess. Yet quick we came 
With shouldered packs that made us glad to lean 
Each 'gainst the other, for we were starved men 
And bent beneath our burthens : sadder lot 
Ne'er gathered neath the moon. Lo, there he stood, 
Our sometime " old man," now our very Lord, 
With that upon him to bid heads lift up 
And quaking legs stay firm. Then came the word 
Straight to our hearts, " We march on to the north ; 
They hold the roads ; we '11 hew ours through the woods 
Straight to our brothers, or we '11 leave our bones 
Where they will show men marched." Oh, what a shout 
Rang from that peak and far down in the vale, 

Cumberland Gap 185 

So that our foes from sleep sprang to their arms, 

Deeming the sky was on them. Then we swung — 

The men of months ago, stout veterans, 

The ghosts all left behind — adown that steep 

And straight into the forest. First there went 

The van of hundred axemen, felling swift, 

So that the way was opened as we marched 

Slow onward save in heart, for with us went 

Our sick and wounded and our batteries 

Drawn by starved horses, poor dumb beasts who knew 

But service only, naught of that which stuffed 

Our empty hides with might and sent us on 

With breath to toil and shout, " Forth, straight away ! " 

The axes rang before us ; crashing went 

To right and left the trees. Upon the rear 

A host of other axemen closed the path 

With skilful felling; so contrived the boughs 

Laced in a tangle where each branch was knit 

So to its fellows that the barrier 

Was tight as beaver dam, and each bent twig 

Ready at touch to smite as well-swung flail 

Whoever stirred it. Thus we were islanded 

In that great sea of woods as far and safe 

From our hard jailers as though ocean wrapped 

Upon uncharted isle. Afar we heard 

The drum-beat and the bugle call to arms 

In all our foemen's camps, and roared our joy 

At the wild questioning of the hubbub raised 

By Yank and devil in the far-off wood. 

1 86 Cumberland Gap 

We knew him swift as Satan, knew he 'd spring 
Upon our outposts, find there emptiness, 
And then, suspecting ambush, wary creep 
Unto that silent hold. Then as we climbed 
Up the long reaches of the wood-clad hill 
And won its summit with our slow-hewn way, 
We looked off to that fortress, lone and still, 
Where we had worn our hearts out. O'er its crest 
The fulling moon went down, and in the east 
Drave up the first of day. Good day to eyes 
That long had seen him glower through the bars 
Of that hard prison, mocking as he came 
With his free sweep to circle round the world. 
Yea, we now hailed him freemen once again, 
Free in God's wilderness to starve and die 
On a brave quest for graves. All held them still 
And looked back waitingly, as those who watch 
For wonder from the dark. Then as we gazed 
And listened in that silence, far we heard 
The clamour of our foes who hastened on 
To seize that hold and search its mystery, 
The tap of marching drums, the trumpets' cry 
To columns closing in, and then the thing 
That waited in the night. First bayed a gun, 
Sprung with its overcharge to bits in air ; 
Then swiftly all its mates leapt to the sky, 
To fall as thunderbolts amid the flame 
That licked our tents and barracks, leaping up 
As it would fire the vault. Now came the stroke 

Cumberland Gap 187 

For which the rest was prelude, came with roar, 

Heaving the earth to sky and hurling far 

Into the night the ruin of that hold. 

A moment and 't was dark ; then scattered brands, 

Fanned to swift burning by the wind that swept 

Into that tumult, bore to woods and fields 

A tide of flame. Long stood we there and looked, 

But silently, for none had heart to hail 

Our ally Death, though well he smote for us, 

Sending us safety in that mighty stroke. 

Then rang again the axes down the slope 

On other side of hill ; our way breaks on, 

Marked by the trees that totter, lean, and crash 

To right and left, leaving a rift where crept, 

As in a roofless cavern far from sun, 

The thin blue line that flowed down hill and up 

Over the mountain torrents, round the crags 

That sit as ancient ramparts on the crests, — 

A monstrous serpent, with each scale a man, 

That worms its way o'er earth with many a turn, 

But ever towards the north star — animate 

With strange compulsion that bids it go forth, 

Starved, hopeless, toiling on its unseen quest. 

The eyes that look to earth from starry realms 
For all they know of deeds that we know not — 
Deeds marvellous and strange — see none so far 
From shape of ordered spheres as they behold 
In this wild march. There on the east and west 

1 88 Cumberland Gap 

Lie open wide fair ways that lead straight on 

Whereto that thing would go, and yet it gnaws 

Its burrow by their side ; and stranger yet, 

Upon those open paths there, writhing on 

Like scaled serpents, they two striving north 

But swifter on the ways. Often they turn 

Upon a cross-road, .seeking for the path 

Rent by the kindred shape on through the wood, 

And when they find it, there a tumult wakes 

'Mid smoke and flame. But straight upon its course 

Sweeps the blue serpent, cleaving through the grey 

To lodge it once again within the wild, 

Leaving the cloven to reshape and crawl 

Back to the open fields. — Oh, ye who look 

Upon this troubled bit of whirling down 

From isles of peace afar, know ye that here 

Ye see of all God's realm arch mystery ? 

For these contending serpents are men shaped, 

As they believe, in fashion of Himself, 

And set in His creation for His work. 

Those glittering snakes are armies, and each scale 

Is that Lord's image striving till it dies 

To slay its fellow shape ; and as it falls 

Back to the earth that bore it, forth there comes 

Another to its place. Yea, ye are far, 

But sure ye burn with us when ye behold 

Dear men chained in these serpents, creeping on 

As in a living prison, pray in vain 

Unto the might that rules us that He slay 

Cumberland Gap 189 

These time out-during demons. Ye ministers 
Who serve Him as we would, cry we are here 
In this forgotten atom of His realm, 
Knowing of day but biding in the dark; 
Cry that He save, or smite us to the deep, 
That we be shamed no more. 

The morning came 
As toiling axemen clove our way to vale, 
Wherein a brooklet spreading from the hills 
Dwelt 'mid broad meadows, glad to tarry there 
Where first it knew of man, to lave his limbs 
Ere he is cradled, ere he goes to earth, 
To hear his children prattle, light his toil, 
And bear his hope unto the unknown sea. 
There in that mountain fastness dwelt a folk 
By ages parted from the ways of men, 
Knowing but rumour of the wondrous tides 
Of life that sweep the world, of all its deeps. 
They had but sky above and earth beneath, 
And Death the great abyss, yea, and their souls 
That knit them all in one. In them they ranged 
As others on wide seas, brought fancies back 
Wherewith to deck their simple cabined lives — 
Gauds very like to those that Ormus sends 
From its great marts, or Ind, to venturer 
Pays for his far emprise. The deeps are like 
In all their noble yield of pearl and gold 
That guerds the farer's toil. Each year they sent 
Over the eastern pass a caravan 

190 Cumberland Gap 

Of shaggy mountain bulls that bore away 

Their store of feathers, beeswax, and the "sang" 

That goes to far Cathay ; and in good time 

The beasts came bellowing home beneath their loads 

Of precious things and strange, but strangest yet 

The sense of far away that came with them, 

As breath of Araby in ship that fares 

Thence to our western land. Then for a year 

Their lives drew back into that little place 

Girt in by hills and woods, lit by the sun, 

By neighbours' eyes, and stars. — Afar they heard 

The roaring of the mighty beast that came 

Trampling the forest down, and forth they went 

To give it battle, fearful though it seemed 

Even afar, for war was in those hearts 

That had not known its lines for hundred years : 

The eager greed for smiting who comes on — 

Or fellow man or Satan, yea, or Lord, 

Who fits not to their fancy in his deeds. 

On came their valiant host, full half a score, 

Shock-headed, barefoot, eager for the fray 

Until they saw us starved and battered men 

In a hard fight for life. Then they were friends, 

Eager to serve us as before to slay ; 

Helped drag our cannon ; led us to their homes, 

And bade us welcome with no questioning 

Save of our needs. For now their fear was by 

At sight of neighbours from some far away 

Who 'd fallen by their doors. They gave their all 

Cumberland Gap 191 

From scanty larders, store of corn in barns, 

Their cattle, fowls, and pigs ; sent messengers 

To claim the help of kinsmen in their task 

Of succouring a host. Did once again 

The noble miracle by Judah's sea, 

Where those scant loaves and fishes fed mankind 

For all the ages on, for they were given 

By Him who showed all deserts plentiful 

To those who will to give. 

While the men 
Swept far the land to fill our empty maws, 
The mothers cared our wounded with that skill 
Bred of the wilderness, in homely ways 
That passes craft of surgeon, for it hath 
The ancient healing touch of woman's hand 
To bring the life back in the homesick man 
With memory of mother, or let forth 
His willing soul in peace. 

But yesterday 
We were as beasts hunted unto our lair, 
Where we had turned at bay, and fellow man 
Save for the foe was dead. Now here we lay 
Beside a brook that sung as is the wont 
Of helpful streams upon their way to sea ; 
With the good Lord who seemed so hopeless far 
Undoing hurts with those dear neighbours' hands 
That change this earth to heaven. Our worn frames, 
Weak from long caging, wearied by hard toil, 
Fled for a respite from the task before. 

192 Cumberland Gap 

So *t was the morrow morning ere we marched, 

Healed of our torment, for that friendly day 

Had made hard yesterdays of no account, 

Once more to battle with the wilderness. 

We had in us the hearts of men who know 

Again this world is fair. We went not lone, 

For many of those neighbours marched with us ; 

They little questioned of our quest, or cared 

What we were fighting for, but in their ears 

Our drums and trumpets waked numb memories 

Of unremembered days wherein their sires 

Had war trod in their souls. Cowpens and Yorktown, 

Dunbar and Worcester, Cressy and Poitiers — 

And back unto the dark to that far time 

When first the brute waxed man and felt his might 

In onward surging war-line. So their legs 

Wagged them with us by instinct, as the babe 

Draws mothers breast, because it is the way 

Good Mother Earth has taught in her dame's school 

She 's kept these ages ; where her tasks well learned 

Are paid with kingdoms, honours, all her gold, 

Forgetfulness with death. 

We swifter fared 
With those keen guides in front who knew their land 
As lions know the fields wherein they range. 
The giants of the forest bowed them down 
At ring of their swift axes; 't was a sight 
To see the flakes leap far at every stroke 
As if they 'd waited for the chance to fly, 

Cumberland Gap 193 

And might that had defied a thousand storms 

Slip to the earth at touch of mastering hand 

That dared to smite right on. Where peril lay 

There in our front, that night of all unknowns, 

They searched it out, slipped through the tangled ways 

As wild beasts with the ken of things unseen 

But wondrously discerned. 'T was now straight on, 

With never backward step from balking cliffs 

Or deeps impassable, but by the ways 

The pioneer knows well, up beds of brooks 

Where winter's floods had cloven through the crags, 

Over broad meadows where the beavers built 

Their mouldering dams, where wreckage from the hills 

Stayed on its way to sea, o'er table-lands 

In the high air, home of sky-loving pines 

That kept their shadowed floors as temples clean 

And silent at our footfalls, yea, that stilled 

The clamour of our men so they crept on 

As in some vast cathedral where they felt 

The Lord was near. In that good pilotage 

We swam beneath that endless roof of boughs, 

Steering our way to shore, and in each eve 

Sought those vast porches where the soaring cliffs 

O'erhung their fretted bases, finding there 

Strange altars, chapels in those ancient fanes 

Shaped for some faith that never came to be, 

All decked for worship in the peace that dwelt 

Forever with them. So we went dreaming on 

In idle drowse that numbs the wits of men 

194 Cumberland Gap 

Who starve but strive right on. Dreaming we stood 

Each morn beside the grave wherein we earthed 

Brothers who 'd earned their rest, and dreamingly 

Heard the far call of bugle tell the foe 

Had found some by-way to us, once again 

To set across our path, and then we woke 

For a swift doing while the forest rang 

With the high bell notes of our guides' sure guns, 

Whose every stroke bore death, and the hard slam 

Of well-aimed volleys, or the fierce hurrah 

Of charge that rent the foe. 'T was swiftly done. 

Our men, starved nigh to earth, found strength to smite 

For chance of haversacks of those they slew, — 

The half alive are fearful when they call 

On what abides in men when nigh to death 

And hungering for peace, — then dreamed once more 

Beside a wider grave wherein we laid 

Those who had paid the price. 

Yet there were days — 
Oases in that desert wide of days — 
When we knew morn and noon and eve once more, 
For our good pilots, steering deviously, 
Found here and there a little place of homes, 
Each with its welcome, when our drowsy wits 
Were wondering who should open earth for us 
The morrow morn. And then we tried to set 
Our tatters into shape, tied up our rags, 
And lowered knapsacks so they 'd cover up 
Our ragged breeches, stepped with sore feet forth 

Cumberland Gap 195 

To the sad tune our stumbling drummers beat, 
Or broken-winded buglers tried to find. 
Once more Elysian Fields with meat and drink, 
Scant, but enough to change our ghosts to men ; 
Once more a sight of world that knew of homes, 
Of women's voices sorrowing for our plight, 
And shout of sturdy men who hailed us friends, 
Who fared forth with us when reluctant on 
We smote again the wood. Then for a while, 
Before we waned to spectres, we were gay 
With songs that lightened toil, with quirk and chaff 
To spur a drowsy wight that maundering went 
In day-dream of his home so hopeless far, 
And whack to send him waking to his task. 
Then each felt neighbour's burthen as his own 
And shared it as he could. 

All that was by, 
And now we went as phantoms silently, 
Each shut within himself with eyes to earth, 
That once rich earth, now with but place for feet 
And for wild hunger. There are many ways 
By which the ancient brute sealed deep in man 
Breaks back to day, but none so swift as that 
He finds when famished. Look into those eyes 
Where shone the light of mercy, love, and faith, 
The noble stars of sky, now lit with glare 
Ye see in ravined wolves. Yea, 'tis a sight 
To see those limp and faltering shapes of men 
Leap tiger-like upon a horse that falls ; 

196 Cumberland Gap 

In their wild fury stripping its lean bones 
Before the life is out. And as they gorge, 
See how above us wheel across the sky 
The watching vultures, as they knew the end 
Of all our striving. 

Spare us, Thou good Lord, 
War, pestilence, and famine ; for they cast 
Thy shape back to the beasts, slay all Thy care 
That through the weary ages stored in him 
The wondrous harvest of his agony 
From errings infinite, that makes him man, 
The heir of life. 

In such a song as this 
There comes a time when singer should go swift, 
Else is his lay too sad for hearts of men, 
And not good solace, as all songs should be : 
So let our spectres grope on to the end 
Of their sore travail, till upon a morn, 
Far in the north they hear the cannon boom, — 
Not the sharp yelp of field guns, but the bay 
Of the huge war dogs caged on fortress wall 
Or kennelled on stout ships, — and so they know 
Their striving near its goal ; beside those guns 
They know their banner flies above stout men 
Who are their brethren. They listen long 
To make it sure that trouble of the air 
And quake of earth is no mere phantasy 
Bred of their weariness, — one more day-dream 
Of vagrant hope ; but as the gentle wind 

Cumberland Gap 197 

Swings from the north, the dullest ears know well 
It is the roar of guns. And now a cheer, 
A quavering shout but brave, goes to the sky, 
As might from out a spectral host that wins, 
Beaten yet victors, to the further shore, 
Where they may lay them, knowing they have done 
Their part as men. Now all their strength is out, — 
The might that bore them disembodied on, 
Faithful, in that sore tasking, — and they fall 
In utter weariness, to lie as on the field 
Where lie the dead, heaped as they go 
Upon the earth ; here pillowed on the breast 
Of one who went before ; there stark and lone 
With closed eyes turned to sky. The sun climbs up, 
Waking the world ; but those he marshalled on 
In their hard tasking sleep as children sleep 
'Neath roof-tree's shelter, for they know that there, 
Down in the vale, are brothers who fight on ; 
That whate'er may be lost, the good cause lives 
And waits their waking. 

Now the bugles sing 
As larks that climb the sky, and forth the drums 
Send their wild heart-beats, waking dullest ears 
That know the stir of earth. Up leap those shades, 
Those withered shapes of men, gaunt but now strong ! 
From brave dreams to a waking for brave deeds 
Swift they are ranked, and swift they stride away 
Down the long slope that leadeth from the hills 
To the Ohio's shore. The unhorsed guns 

198 Cumberland Gap 

They Ve dragged a hundred miles with four-score men 
Yoked to each harness, tugging ceaseless on 
At the heart-breaking toil, seem light as sleds 
That boys drag o'er the snow — as if they too 
Lifted their brazen hearts to hail the deeds 
The morrow brings to them. 

Ye who have read, 
After brave Xenophon, how Spartan host, 
Long wandered, hopeless save for Spartan hope, 
Shouted at sight of sea, — of sea that blessed 
With chance of battles new, — and hear that cry 
Of kindred fate and hearts, from land and time 
So far no Grecian dreamed them, hailing gleam 
Of the Ohio's wave, — know strangely near 
Are knit all ages by the deeds of men : 
How " Thalatta " e'er rings on hard-marched ways 
That lead from lonely peril to the touch 
Of kindred helping hands. 

Now they have won. 
That sheltering wood 's behind, and 'fore them lies 
The day of open fields. There in the stream 
A fleet of gunboats that had swept away 
The foe that watched their coming. Yea, 't is home ; 
Their nation's roof-tree 's o'er them, and the might 
Of brothers by their side. 

I see them now, 
How shadowy, gaunt, and old, as there they lay, 
None seeming less than threescore, — as the dead 
Made ready for the pit, while o'er them bend 

Cumberland Gap 199 

Their helpers good, so strangely young and stout, 
Lifting each spectre for his food and drink, 
Then laying him to sleep. So for a time 
These whilom men were infants ; newly born 
Back to the life they left on that hard road ; 
Back swiftly to the strong men that they were 
Before their jailing and their wild escape 
Into the night away. 

Here is the end 
Of that brave fight for life and that which lives 
Beyond the battled lines. Yea, 't is the end, 
As valiant deed is ended when the veil 
Thick woven of the years shuts to our eyes 
The men who shaped it. When the curtain drops, 
The tragedy is ended, and we forth 
To seek the stars and air, and care no more 
For heroes dead or living, for the time 
To tell their story 's by, and they are dead 
So soon the story 's told. But count it not 
That all is done when curtain falls ; for Time 
With his immortal servants is behind, 
Shaping the stage for other tragedies. 
New actors con new parts they are to play, 
And the old pictures of earth's vales and hills 
Will hail those living as they hailed our dead ; 
For dead and living are alike their own. 


Dawn comes where sleeps a host awaiting day 
To bid it forth to deeds. Far in the east 
The ushering star grows dim, and all the world 
Knoweth its splendour near : so hosts have slept 
The weariness of yesterdays away 
These weary ages, dreaming of God's peace, 
To wake for Satan's war. 

On yonder hill, 
Lined 'gainst the blackened west, the leader stays, 
The master of those legions, on his horse, 
Leaning unto the darkness, reckoning for 
What cometh o'er the vale of Tennessee 
Where night abideth yet — a sentinel, 
Whose task it is to peer into the night 
With heart for what night sends. His face is still, 
But in his eyes there is the light that shines 
Adown all ages' midnights, finding ways 
Where valour's feet may tread — the Caesar look 
That shrinks the ample spaces of this world 
Unto the stage where man may play his part 
And baffle destiny. Out of the west, 
Past the linked arches of the earth and sky, 
We hear the throbbing of the far-off guns, 
Now as a tremor of all earth and air, 
Now as a whisper, now a pulsing roar, 
As night winds tell the raging of far seas. 

The Rescue March 201 

Awhile the leader hearkens. Then he becks 
An aide who waits ; gives orders that are borne 
So swift as horse may leap. Then looks away 
Over the slumbrous camp, where 'neath the tents, 
Grimed with the mire of many a hard-fought field, 
Sleeps the brave host that waits his word to do 
Hard task for soul and thews. Then as he goes 
Adown the hill, he hears his message ring : 
Up and away, up and away ! " 
Sing out the bugles, whir out the drums, 
Quick to your baiting, Johnnies are waiting." 

With the swift magic of the soldier's craft 

The tented fields are bared, the cannon horsed, 

And to their banners flock the burthened men, 

Each with half-hundred weight upon his back — 

What he hath of earth's goods, and what of ills 

Wherewith to slay his neighbours. Ye who know 

The tricked-off soldier of gay holidays 

Will seek him vainly in such veteran hosts 

That tread the ways of war. Behold him there, 

The ancient man of arms, who hath trod on 

Out of the primal night in search of day 

That dawns within his heart. Bent 'neath his load, 

A burthened, dirty peddler, forth to vend 

His hard pelf o'er the world. Bright arms and eyes 

And step that tells of might hid in that heap : 

All else is sordid, foul, as men may be 

With the clean life of true men 'neath their hides. 

202 The Rescue March 

Look down those serried ranks, and see thy folk 
The masters of this world. Yea, they are grim, 
As they had looked within the gates of Hell 
And knew its scorching still. Yet in them bides 
The heart of men sent on from sire to son, 
The grace of God from mothers who them bore 
To keep this world from shame. 

Long ere the sun 
Fires the tree-tops on the waiting hills, 
These ordered legions, thirty thousand strong, 
Are ready for the word that sends them on 
Wherever it may bid, and now their chief 
Giveth the message, — message that hath wings, 
Cleaving straight to their hearts, " Hear ye, my men ! 
Beyond the river, forty miles away, 
Our brothers are in battle with the foe, 
Who smites with twice their force. Valour will hold 
Until the sun has set ; but in the morn 
We stand where they have stood or we are damned, 
For that good fight is lost. On to your work ! " 
Then out that host there sweeps a mighty cheer 
From men who hail their tasking as the Lord 
Had opened wide His gates and bade them in ; 
Yea, in that surging cry we know their hearts 
Are where their feet shall stay before the morn, 
When all those burning miles are trodden down. 
We hear not in that roar the devil's note, 
That rings o'er reddened fields for victory, 
But that from high, to tell the souls of men 

The Rescue March 203 

Have might to stay the brother. On they swing 
A-roaring to the wood, and from its depth 
Far ring the echoing cheers — and now the field 
Where myriads dwelt the night is lone and still. 

Ye who in fancy see war's splendour gleam, 

From battle's front hare never seen the might 

Of men who hurled them o'er the earth away 

Upon a rescue march. Yea, all the deeds 

Of noblest legions on the hardest field 

Have Satan in them ; but this march to save 

Is as the warring with the dooming sea 

Of those who fight for shipwrecked — for the Lord. 

So are the dirty ways of war sublimed 

By those who march to save. 

On rolls the host, 
Steadfast as river forth into the sea, 
A mighty living tide that breasts the hills 
And roars adown the valleys, breaking ways 
Wherever earth may hinder. On, straight on, 
As hurls the avalanche that knows its path 
From the vast might that sways it. 

While the morn 
Lightens their hearts, they tread to beat of songs, 
Wild catches shaped by camp-fires to old tunes 
That fit to plodding feet — those roundelays 
That vanish with the dust wherever hosts 
Tread on the paths of war ; with quirk and gibe 
And boyish antics like a troop from school ; 

204 The Rescue March 

With never note of what flames in their souls 

To hurl them on their way. They Ve that strange shame 

That bids true hearts go hide nobility 

Beneath the ragged cloak of vulgar phrase ; 

Yet through its tatters shines the shape within 

To eyes that know the trick. Yea, each one sees 

The image of his brother fighting on 

For God and land, like blazing cross in sky, 

As forth they to it willing as their Christ. 

They know the splendour of their task ; they told 

How well they knew it in the roar that hailed 

Hard toil and death for goal. Yet now they howl 

Like monkeys on a frolic. Yea, such men 

Puzzle the wits of those who see their masks 

And naught of what they hide, who know not how 

Man 's shaped as is the realm where meanest things 

Cloak the majestic, so that we may tread 

Beside the Lord unblinded. Hear that song : 

" Trudging away, Hell is to pay, 
The old man is in for it, so trudge away. 
Ho there, you Johnnies ! Yankees are coming ! 
Get up and git, for the hornets are humming ; 
Don't try to stay, — Buell 's away, — 
The old man is after you, Hell is to pay ! 

" Old John Brown had one little Indian, 
Two little, three little, four little Indian, 
Five little, six little, heap little Indian, 

The Rescue March 205 

Smart little Indian boys. 

Old John's body lies a-mouldering in his grave, 

But his boys are marching on. 

Glory, glory, halleluja ! glory, glory, halleluja ! 

For his boys are marching on ! " 

Now comes high noon. 
The spring of morn is past — they shout no more, 
But bend them to their toil, with but a word 
Of cheer to wearied neighbour, or a whack 
To start his slowing blood. At frequent streams, 
Chill with the winter's snows, a horseman tries 
The surging waters, — finds where men may fight 
Waist-deep, each helping other, past the ford. 
Now plunging in, they wrestle with the flood 
That heaps above the throng and tugs and whirls ; 
So here and there a man is swept away 
To wrestle with the torrent, — 'hap to shore, 
Or 'hap to find another path so deep 
That leads to death. There is scant time to save 
Whoso falls by the way, when men strive on 
Unto a nation's saving. Yet see there 
Where one is whirled away, a brigadier 
Who cons his passing legion, turns his steed, 
Leaps swift into the stream, and spurring hard, 
Wins to the helpless, lifts him on his horse, 
And swims beside him till the shore is won, 
Roaring his curses on the hapless wight 
Because his gun is lost. So on and on 

206 The Rescue March 

The tide of life fights with those kindred streams 
That part it from its purpose : man's hard fight 
With brutal earth for chance to win his way 
Unto nobility. 

The ford is past, 
And all the dripping legions swing away, 
While mocking drums and bugles sing the call 
Of " pease upon a trencher." With no halt 
They munch their soaked grub, the ancient hoard 
Of grimy haversacks ; their pork and bread 
A gruesome mess that well-bred hounds would scorn 
The cc three days' rations " that to veteran tells 
Famine and fight to come. Days when his belt, 
Drawn to the last notch, will not hold his legs 
In shape for sturdy wagging. While they feed, 
The weary horses strive to snatch their share 
From boughs and sedge-tops. So, close knit as ship 
That leaves no wake behind, go men and beasts ; 
With thirty thousand wills all shaped as one, 
Bound by a mighty purpose, straight away 
Toiling to horizon. 

'T is now the time, 
The leader knows, that peril of the march 
May come upon his host ; when souls and thews 
Grow weary of hard striving and bow down ; 
When those who Ve stood with no man at their back 
Upon a broken line falter and fall 
As dead beside the way. So now he rides 
With rear-guard, watching for the sorry signs 

The Rescue March 207 

That stout hearts break beneath the load they bear. 

Still none lie down, and when, now here, now there, 

Some stagger to the earth, stout neighbours lift 

Their knapsacks on their own, and cuff them on. 

So they 'scape shame. This world yet giants knows 

Who in hard trials joy to help bowed men — 

Shoulder their loads and trudge on as they found 

Might in their double burthens — still have breath 

To send a shout of welcome to the skies 

For the brave tasking. There 's a Hercules, 

A soldier from the woods of Michigan, 

Who hath in him the axeman's nimble strength, 

The hearts of myriad oaks, the grace of pines 

That he hath slain. In him some Norseman old 

Finds once again on earth his ancient way 

To valiant plundering. Like Santa Claus, 

Clad in his motley spoils, he tops the heap 

With knapsack of a stripling by his side — 

A raw recruit, poor lad, who finds the Lord 

In that huge sinner. Yet as on he swings 

Upon the way, he pipes as pipes the lark, 

As if his only task were heralding 

Of merry days. And those who hear his song 

Straighten their backs, and are once more stout men 

In soul and thews. 

As on the rescue sweeps 
From morn to eve, each mile the sullen roar 
Of battle nearer comes, till cannon beats 
Sharp music for the march. The setting sun 

208 The Rescue March 

Is wrapped within the war cloud that rolls high 
Over the sulphurous field. A mighty arch, 
Lit by the pulsing flashes of the guns, 
A score of miles away and yet so near 
They quiver firm-set earth. Beneath that pall 
That shuts out heaven, on the columns pass 
As hosts that enter in the gates of Hell, 
Leaving the breath of sky. 

'T is now deep night, 
That time the leader fears when men no more 
Take heart from all the cheering hosts of day, 
But blindly stumble onward, faint of soul, 
As if they groped o'er graves to find their own. 
Yea, all the morning valour *s left behind, 
Trod down in weary miles, and all that holds 
Those bowed shapes to their task is faith of men. 
Ye fancy proof of man comes on the fields 
When dear life 's set for hazard. See ye here 
Far sorer trial than where they front Death 
That numbs their valour with his weariness, 
Leaving but faith to face the agony, 
Spurring them on unto far place to die. 
Hear that vast smothered cry, the myriad moan, 
Those prayers to God or Satan. See there youths, 
The child still in their faces white and drawn, 
Who sleep as on they stumble; dream of home, 
Of mother, or of sweetheart ; wake to know 
Again their torment. See yon grizzled sire, 
Still soldier good, for all his three-score years 

The Rescue March 209 

That now weigh sorely, striving yet to stay 
His son who totters by him ; last of three 
Who but a year ago strode forth with him 
Seeking their people's safety. 

So the host, 
That vast creation of omnipotence 
In soul-linked men, moans ever on and on 
Upon its tortured way : as some vast brute, 
Incarnate from the clods to do His work 
Of rending earth or heaven, might surge on, 
Bearing its load of woe to destined end, 
Knowing but torment till its task was done, 
In the lone joy of death. See there the men 
Who in the day swept on in measured tread 
That marks the veterans' going, keeps them free, 
Onward to swing as ordered birds in air, 
Are but a herd that crowds and sways and halts, 
Here in wrestling throngs, there with spaces wide, 
Past which in shambling run they win them on. 
See in these jammings of the senseless mob, 
At every halt, they sink upon the earth, 
Heaped on each other: lying as the dead 
Smote by volcanic blast. On them comrades 
Stumble and fall until they block the path 
As drift-wood bars a stream ; and then the fight 
Of all who lead to wake those dead to life, 
Smite them afoot, and send them on their way 
With kicks and cuffs and curses, whack of swords, 
And prick of bayonets. 

210 The Rescue March 

Thus through the night 
Creeps on the column hurled forth on the morn, 
Nigh unto death, but with the might that lives 
When all of life is out, for faith bides still 
And bids it on, yet on. 

But now the wood, 
That all the night hath wrapped them in its dark, 
Hath light of dawn that once more pales the stars 
In presence of new day; a dawn that wakes 
No song in those bowed hearts. Oh, what a change 
From those brave legions ready for the march 
With Caesar round the world, now bent and old 
As they had trod with him the ages on 
Since he was quenched in earth ! What stuff for deeds 
Is left within those ghosts, those once stout men, 
Who hailed their cross when last swung up the sun ? 
Set them to bar defeat, to break the surge 
Of victory that leaps unto its goal ? 
Nay, they are beaten, lit but for the graves 
Whereto they stumble. So say ye who know 
The outer shell of man, but not the seed 
That hides within the husk ; that waits to spring 
Unto its wonder, at the mastering word. 
He who hath conned that march and hour by hour 
As miser reckoned spending, hears that word 
Brought by hard-ridden aide who answers hail, 
Sent yester morn by swiftest couriers. 
" My general bids you know he is o'erwhelmed ; 
His lines are beaten back, and half his force 

The Rescue March 211 

Hurled from the field and huddled by the stream. 

He dares not hope your footmen win to him, 

But asks you send your cavalry and guns 

To cover his retreat." Then for a time 

Our leader looks upon his down-bowed men — 

That sullen stream that creeps unheeding on — 

And forth into that war cloud, as he would 

Make reckoning with fate. Then answer gives : 

Say to your general that we shall stand 

To the last man where stood our brethren, there, 

Before we see the sun." 

The aide spurs hard, 
For he bears hope to brighten that despair. 
He hath the measure of that silent man 
And knows he reckons well. 

Hark ! from the front 
There comes a cheering, — weary and yet brave, 
As dying men who find in victory 
A life spring for their hearts. Yea, now they tread 
Adown the slopes beside the Tennessee, 
Nearby the boats that are to bear them o'er 
Unto that smoke-enwrapped field of Hell, 
The goal of their far striving — place to stand 
And give the Lord account. See them sweep on, 
Once more a veteran host, with heart to snatch 
Victory from Satan. Now with swift charge 
They mount the boats, and with their willing might 
Swift warp them o'er the stream. They have a cheer 
From the cowed throng that skulks on further shore, 

212 The Rescue March 

And from the myriad wounded who wait there 
For surgeon's help or death, a quavering cry 
Of shades that once were men : they send a roar, 
A lusty echo of the shout that rang 
The yesterday when forth they roaring went 
Unto their task. Swift from the decks they spring, 
Swift rank them 'neath their banners. Chafe to wait 
The slower guns and ordering of march, 
For each hath tide in heart that surges on 
And curses halting feet. 'T is once again 
The miracle of dead made live, good deeds 
Where death may be well earned. 

Now they are forth, 
Cleaving that chaos as the north wind cleaves 
The tangled wreck of storm ; brushing aside 
The throng of vagrants, wreckage of the lines 
That Beauregard had smote ; then carefully 
Crowding against the hedgerows to give way 
For those who bear the wounded ; endless stream 
That flows from 'neath yon burning pall of war, 
With its grim harvest laden on their biers. 
See there a mighty black with master borne 
Upon his shoulders, as the shepherd bears 
Lost sheep unto the fold. Hail, Carey Bell, 
Dear, well-remembered giant ! Thy swart hide 
Wrapped as brave sinner as this world e'er knew ; 
To thee hard battle was a minstrel show. 
On with thy burthen snatched from 'neath the feet 
Of charging hosts and borne for weary miles — 

The Rescue March 213 

Yea, on I see thee marching past the sky 
With grin and quirk, but on thy back that load 
To lift thine own of sin ! 

Now all the line 
Breaks to the double-quick, with hands o'er eyes 
And faces turned away ; for there 's the place 
The surgeons set their tables yester morn 
To toil through day and night. Look, if you dare 
To face the sorest torment of this world ; 
Look not unless you could behold the Christ 
As he wore out his stout life on the tree, 
For here is once again that agony 
Shrouding the everlasting in its night. 
See those red altars for war's offering : 
And by them faithful priests, clad in their robes 
Once white as snow, now dyed with blood of man. 
See how stern faced they are, hard as the steel 
That in their tender hands rends limbs of men. 
See there the bearers toss upon the board, 
As porters heave their bales, a shapely lad 
With death writ on his face. The surgeon's hand 
Goes swiftly to the heart ; then waves away 
What 's past his help, unto the nearby field 
Where lie his silent comrades, a great host 
Waiting their graves. Another in his place, 
Grey-bearded soldier, on his shoulder stars. 
Now with deft stroke of knife his wounds are bared 
And o'er him bends the surgeon. Swift the work, 
For in a trice 't is done, and his legs cast 

214 The Rescue March 

Upon the heap that 's grown since yester morn ; 
And forth he goes a remnant of a man, 
Haply to creep unto some far-off grave, 
Or happier to find it in the nearby field. 
So on and on those hard-faced ply their trade. 
Ye think them hard of heart ? See one there lies 
Who 's dropped the mask and sobs his life away 
Beside the mortal wounded, that no skill 
Can help save to the passing; smote in soul, 
By agony he 's shared. No wound 's on him, 
Yet there he dies of heart-break for that woe 
Fought all the night in grim way of his kind 
Who face, as men must, torment. 

Now from afar, 
Beyond the wood that 'fended yesterday 
This refuge from assail, the enemy 
With nearer planted guns welcomes the dawn 
With the wild music of his cannonade. 
Swift through the throbbing air come hurtling shells, 
Skimming above the tree-tops ; stooping down 
To send their torment 'mid this wreck of war 
That here hath sought asyle. See there one sweeps, 
A shrieking demon, eager for the chance 
To do his master's bidding, with sure aim 
Upon that altar. Yea, well is it done — 
There 's rent earth where that place of mercy was, 
All else hath vanished, save the faith that stays 
In faithful hearts and hands. Swift as that stroke 
The ruin 's mended. Other priests stand there, 

The Rescue March 215 

White-robed and ready, as new-stricken come 
Unto the new-built altar. 

On with ye 
So fast your weary legs may bear ye on 
To what awaits ye in once blossomed fields, 
Where tender eyes were opening to the sky 
Trusting the Lord, to find they waited feet 
Of maddened throngs to stamp them in the earth. 
What doth await ye there is Satan's own, 
What's here hath strangely mingled Heaven and Hell, 
Those warring infinites that rend our souls 
And make an end of deeds. 

They breast the hill, 
Spurred on by what 's behind, and on they surge 
Into a ruined world, a ravaged earth 
Beat down by hurrying feet ; past smouldering fires 
Where vanished homes : past many a field where lie 
The ragged flecks the bearers have laid down 
Because the life was out; o'er broken arms, 
Guns with rent wheels and mouths turned to the sky 
As they would bay the heaven — now deep Hell, 
Paved with the dead ! the mingled friend and foe 
Sealed in death's mystery. At first they seek to step 
Over the corses, then they stumble on, 
Cursing the hindrance, plucking here or there 
Canteen or haversack. Thus sways the host 
Unto its place of tasking. Now 't is there ; 
The bugles ring their message and it swings 
To right and left, to stay where they have stood 

216 The Rescue March 

O'er whom they stumbled on. Yea, 't is a sight 
To lift e'en cowards' hearts, that swift deploy 
Ending the rescue march and setting might 
Where hope was swept away. There, as the surf 
That laps along a strand, the waves swing forth 
In battle-line, until o'er hill and dale 
It reaches past the sight; then sinks to earth 
To wait the call of trumpets to its deed. 
The rescue march is ended, and what comes 
Needs but a brave awaiting. 

Up lifts the sun 
That shone to hills and hearts the yester morn 
And bade these brave men stand where brothers stood 
Who lie upon this earth: brave, patient sun, 
With welcome for all deeds and light for feet 
Unquestioning where they tread, unto its noon 
And on unto its eve! 

See those near lines, 
One that sleeps for near waking, one that sleeps 
In the forever, waiting for the trump 
That shall awake them past the realm of days. 
How very like those brothers as they lie 
Hap-hazard where they fall, some eyes to heaven 
As if they saw their peace in its still depths ; 
Some with their hidden faces turned to earth 
As babes that hug them to the mother's breast, 
Shielded by loving arms ; all in that trust 
Of the enfolding deeps that comes to all 
When lids of eyes go down. Yea, they are one, 

The Rescue March 217 

Those silent brothers, in the sleep they share, 
Though they of further line wait tap of drum, 
And nimble bugle's cry to wake for war ; 
And they the nearer for the angel's call 
In the far morrow, summoning to peace. 
So lie those twins together on the field — 
Death and his brother Sleep. 

It is so still 
In air and in all hearts that birds dare sing 
Their welcome to the day. Yea, 't is a dream 
That ever else than sleep with its wild dreams 
Stirred this abiding peace. No war fronts here ; 
Even the guns are drowsing as their tasks 
Were all forgot, — idle as cannon old 
That are the children's playthings in a park ; 
Fearful but for their villain crash of yore — - 
Now well past all ill deeds. The horses lie 
Beside their weary riders. All 's so still 
The mother partridge pipes her tiny chicks 
Unfearing 'mid the sleepers, and the blooms 
Trod down by hurrying feet lift up once more 
Their chalices to sky. So for an hour ; 
Then on the fringes of yon sunlit wood, 
Where stand our outposts half a mile away, 
We see the skirmishers' swift ordered line 
Sweep to the front, and hear the pattering shots 
That tell the storm-front near. Now on it comes, 
Surging from out the forest like a wave 
Shattered by surge through tangles, but swift shaped 

2i 8 The Rescue March 

Into a mighty breaker that rolls on 

Unto the waiting shore. Swift on they come 

To grasp the victory they won at eve 

But night kept from their hands. They see it near, 

For on that field there stands no longer wall 

To 'fend their onset. One swift rush will win 

Their way unto the wreckage by the shore. 

Theirs is the mighty hunger of a host 

To grasp the fruit of hard-won victory: 

It spans a wondrous reach of emptiness, 

From patriot's longing for his country's weal 

To that of hungry bellies. On it roars 

Lust-swept unto its goal, a mighty tide 

Of all incarnate greeds. Ah, but now lifts 

A wonder to their eyes. To bugle's shout 

And whir of drums, from out the earth there spring 

The lines that went to earth as night came down, 

Of dead made live again in brothers true 

Who heard far cry and hastened. They stand firm 

As men with planted feet to save their dead, 

Their dear lives profit in the wrestle hard 

Made with rude death for fate : yea, as a rock 

To meet that valiant surge and hurl it back, 

An adamantine shore 'gainst roaring sea, 

Making its raging impotent and vain, 

Commanding it be stilled. 

'T was long ago. 
That battle's smoke hath gone into the void, 
Its thunder to the deeps where all is hushed. 

The Rescue March 219 

The blossoms spring the fairer on that field, 
As is their wont to where the faithful lie, 
That earth may give to beauty chance to lift 
Back to nobility the noble dust 
Of long-forgotten days. 


Come with upbearing wings, for we are forth 
To scan a realm trod down by warring hosts. 
From the great river eastward to the sea, 
'Mid Allegheny's peaks, and by the shore 
Where laps on coral strands the wondrous stream 
Of tropic ocean, troop the hosts of war. 
There bugles ring and tireless cannon throb 
With pulses that their echo finds in hearts 
'Neath roof-trees shadowed by enduring fear. 
Come with God's staying hope, to see this earth 
Shaped for His glory in the joy of sun 
Turned to the Devil's altar, where men haste 
As moths into its flame. Come with the eyes 
That look past Satan to the eternal fields, 
Sown with the seed of valour, whence shall spring 
The goodly corn that giveth to the store 
Unstained by reaper's blood. Yea, let us send 
War's horrors to the deep, and keep in heart 
The nobie it unmasks; o'erlook its shames, 
So we may catch in light of brothers' eyes 
What lay in brothers' hearts they could not tell, 
Till true faith broke the seal and bade us read 
As the dear light went out. 

'Mid all that rage, 
Wide as the sea, behold this lesser field, — 

Under the Banner 221 

Still to a Caesar's grasp of earth a realm, — 
Where, from the Mississippi to the hills 
That look as sentinels toward the sea, 
As they would watch the coming of their foe 
In marshalled surges, for a hundred leagues 
Stretches our war-line, that hath wrestled on, 
Still sweeping forward as a mighty wave 
That fronts the hurricane ; now beaten back 
In wreck from steadfast rock, to lift again 
'Fore the vast rage that sways it. Here it roots 
In the rude surge that brings it nigh the shore 
And sunders Rebeldom, so cleaving straight 
The way unto war's end. 

There in a morn 
Of promise-bringing days the banners flit 
Beneath the shadowy arches of the pines, 
And trumpets wake the silence as they sing 
With hope that hails the shore and hard task done 
By willing hearts and hands. Life hath its morn, 
And needs no lark to carol in its day 
When past the night it sees to victory : 
So singing, they troop on. 

The master stays 
Amid his aides upon a hill that looks 
Far to the north, wherein the rear-guard holds 
The lengthened chain of posts that stays this realm, 
Hard won, hard held against the desperate foe, 
That sure would smite to win again his own 
So soon his hands were free. It was the plan 

222 Under the Banner 

In our vast weaving of the net of war 

That east and west our hosts should press and hold 

All set against them, so no force could 'scape 

The clutch to range afar. We little knew 

How from that valour-breeding earth would spring 

Youth from the cradle, age from by the grave, 

Shaped to war's sternest use. Ay, we were fools 

After the ancient way, in reckoning 

Brothers who stood against us less than men 

Of our own hearts and thews. But he who looked 

There to the north saw far, — saw well the chance, 

How to a leader's call from earth would leap 

A might to break that line and leave his host 

A drifting wreck lost in a 'wildering sea : 

So, with a heart that echoed to his drums 

Roaring on to the south, with soldier's eye 

He scans that northern way. There all is still. 

The fields are tenantless ; the chimneys send 

No wreath to sky ; for all there knows the peace 

Of war-trod land where earth 's a widened grave. 

But see in that vast stillness, there afar 

Upon the edge of sky, the vultures swing 

Out of their ordered circling, as they knew 

Life breaks upon their realm. Now where the way 

Mounts o'er yon sunlit hill a dot moves on, 

A trail of dust behind, and now it shapes 

To horse and man : that olden messenger 

Who down the ages hath the dust of earth 

Spurned on his eager errand, bearing on 

Under the Banner 223 

Command of fate to spur the hearts of men. 

Now he is here, and halts his weary steed 

Before the silent master. Swift he tells 

That from the east a hundred thousand men, 

Out nether earth, or sky, have broken through 

Our slender line ; swept o'er the men who stood 

To die where they might stand ; and hurled straight on 

Unto the north, with naught to bar the way 

But weary remnants of the wrecked commands 

Who set their wounds against the victor's host ; 

Yea, and a throng of laggards, who now heard 

Their brothers' cry and knew at last the throb 

Of hearts awakened, springing forth to deeds 

With nothing of the soldier save their souls, 

A mighty tumult purposeless and vain 

Against that veteran might that would march on, 

If valour captained it, to Erie's shore 

And rend the land in twain. 

Ye who have seen 
Great captains face hard peril know the look 
That tells the might of man — that still, far gaze, 
Summing a realm of deeds and reckoning well 
What duty bids be done; how steadfastly 
They face the vast on-coming of the fates 
Sweeping upon them with the might to 'whelm 
Lean souls of common men. And then how swift 
They spring upon that peril with the stroke 
That smites it down. Yea, 't is a little thing 
Whereon the Lord hath writ the soul of man, 

224 Under the Banner 

No bigger than this page, and yet it holds 

The master and the servant graven there ; 

Of all the ages long the history, 

Since in the brutes He willed that man should be 

His temple in this wilderness of days. 

So for a while our leader looks away 

Over the spaces : then to his waiting aides 

Gives orders brief that send them swift afar 

Southward to stay the march and turn our host 

Back on their hard-won way ; and east and west 

Unto his generals, to gather all 

Straight to his banner for the work to do 

Of winning back the realm so bravely won. 

Yea, it is hard to feel an empire slip 

Out of his willing hands into the deep, 

Yet 'tis the soldier's part to face the storm 

As he would happy faring. 

Swift they come 
From south and east and west in ordered streams, 
As rills that know their way unto the sea. 
A hundred miles of march, and all are there 
Beneath one flag in eager backward march, 
Rebargaining for fields that brothers bought 
And paid with faithful lives — no beaten host, 
But stout of heart, as when their bugles sang 
Of victories to sky. For well they know 
That Yore them is the foe, and their stout hearts 
Leave else unto their leader. 

On they go, 

Under the Banner 225 

From dawn to dark, in those long summer days, 
Scant-fed, sore-footed, gaunt, weak save in heart, 
But there well-tempered steel. The pole-star lifts 
As march on march they win their certain way, 
Trailing the longed-for foe. 

A wondrous thing 
Is a vast army in the primal realm 
Of ancient changeless woods and ravaged fields 
Wrecked by the tread of war, swift surging on 
As some great planet parted from its realm 
Through spaces seeking for its destiny 
Hurled by the will of God — and yet it goes 
A well-shaped commonwealth, where each man sets 
His feet to win and ward. There is the van — 
The keen-eyed thousand horse — that scans the paths 
For what may lurk of danger, sweeping off 
The nimble foes that seek to block its way. 
Afar to right and left the flankers swing, 
Searching each vale and wood with ready stroke 
For what may menace. Swift stroke, then straight on — 
And after all, the rear-guard's wrapping lines, 
Warding the myriad wagons, droves of beeves, 
The throng of helpless gathered to that hold, 
As in old wars to castles. With them go 
The ambulances for the broken men 
Who 've fallen on the way and are not healed, 
By prick of bayonet or slap of blade — 
A shapeless huddle till the foemen try 
Assault upon it, then swift-ordered host 

226 Under the Banner 

That stands a fortress 'gainst his stout assail. 

Within that moving wall of steel and fire 

Marches a commonwealth of kindred souls. 

Look well upon them, see what dwelleth there 

Writ clear on every face : the ancient tale 

Of poet's fancy, valour flaunting out 

Its vaunting banners ? Nay, a sorry throng, 

After the manner of earth's plain, strong men 

Set in the common deeds of common days. 

A marching folk, such as trooped on of old 

Through Europe's trackless wilds to bear down Rome. 

A host with peace in heart, but war in hand 

For whoso bars its way. An idle rout 

Until the bugles sing, and then stern lines 

That sweep as mastering surges straightway on 

Whereto the great sea wills. Those who know war 

In kingly pomp of hosts shaped by the art 

Of Old World masters see but rabble here — 

Soldiers to be or soldiers that have been 

Until they knew defeat. 

But see them near, 
Ye critics of war's work, see now this mob 
Of farmers, shopmen, smiths, a folk in arms, 
A dirty clutter of on-straggling men 
Charring their leaders, girding all that lies 
'Twixt Heaven and Hell. For now comes the test 
That tells a soldier dwells within their hides : 
Before them lies a river wide and deep, 
Swift flowing, fit to try the skill 

Under the Banner 227 

Of very Caesar, trained in war's keen art, 
And on the further shore the crested line 
Of ramparts crowned with foemen. 'T is a check 
To mate the deftest player till hard siege 
Batters those walls to dust — save for the might 
Inborn of men who know this earth their Lord's 
And they its freemen : wonted to the ways 
Of keen, hard smiting at the front of ills 
With linked hearts and hands. 

Swiftly the scouts 
Pierce through that menace, picture it for deeds 
To silent leader of the waiting host 
Changed now from rabble to firm-ordered men. 
Then bugles ring, and forth the batteries 
Whirl to the hill-tops, while the columns break 
To battle order, steadfast creeping on 
To win the hither shore ; while from the train 
Hurry the pontoniers with ready gear 
To bridge the stream : scores of good boats on wheels, 
Cables and anchors, timbers for the way 
To bear the rushing legions. In an hour 
The action waits the word ; a cannon shouts, 
And ere its shot is forth its thunder cloud, 
The valley is a roar. From every point 
That offers vantage leap the screaming shells, 
While from the woods and fields the musketry 
Rings till it drowns the bugles. Swiftly rolls 
The cloud of battle o'er the trembling stream, 
Mantling its valley, shutting out the sun. 

228 Under the Banner 

Now 'neath that pall sweep on the pontoniers 
Down to the riverside and toss their boats 
As they were cockle-shells into the wave ; 
A moment and they're ranged. It nothing halts 
That from the further shore death cometh swift 
From hidden marksmen. As each toiler sinks 
Beneath the reddened stream, a brother 's there 
With hands to clutch the task, by him another, 
Patient and still, to stand where he hath stood 
So soon as he doth fall. 

Now it is built, 
And o'er the firm-set way the skirmishers 
Leap forth as unleashed hounds unto their work, 
Whirling the scattered marksmen of the foe 
As smoke before the wind. Then sudden pour 
The eager columns, infantry and horse, 
Cannon that waited for this final stroke, 
In tide that shapes it swift to ordered lines 
That circle round that hold, and smother out 
What flickers there of fire. The task 's half done, 
The foe well scotched, so on in surety 
Streams the brave river o'er the other stream, 
Each seeking for its sea. 

Ye who know war 
But in fair pictured fancies — headlong charge, 
Or wall-like lines whereon its surges break — 
Know not its mightiest part in deeds like this, 
Where stout men hurl them 'gainst the rugged world, 
Rend through its mountains, bridge its mighty deeps, 

Under the Banner 229 

And count their foemen least of all the balks 

That hard fate sets athwart their eager souls. 

Now as the rear-guard passes, swift the bridge 

Slips from its moorings ; once again its gear 

Of boats and tackle mounts upon the wheels 

And swings on to the north. The battle-lines 

Fall from that hold away, our dead are graved, 

The volleys ring, and then the quickstep tells 

The part of comrades done. Straight on, straight on, 

With no care of the foes they leave behind — 

The wrecked host within that ruined hold. 

An hour's delay in summons or assault 

Were one league less of safety in the quest 

To save their commonwealth. True soldiers count 

Their foemen as no more than pieces set 

On the great chessboard for the game of war — 

They lift or leave them as it fits their play : 

So those hard-battered foes are left to creep 

Where they may will away — to earth their dead, 

To salve their wounded, and then hunger on 

Through the lean desert of this ruined land, 

Seeking their far-off comrades. 

Straight on, straight on 
Our mighty rabble streams, while day by day 
The store of victual shrinks. The herds of beeves, 
That in the outset seemed to cumber earth, 
And taxed the rear-guards' nimble care to keep 
From the swift raiders, shrink to sorry score, 
Lean as their herders, so that when they fall 

230 Under the Banner 

The buzzards scorn to pluck them. 'T is no more 

The semblance of a march : the men break ranks 

And drift across the fields for chance to fill 

Their empty bellies with what they may glean 

Where hosts have starved before. The parched earth 

Hungers as they, but giveth all it hath — 

Now here an ancient nut, and there a nest 

Of lonely bird that with strong wings hath won 

Nurture from far to stay its starveling brood, 

Where once was fecund plenty. 'Hap they find 

'Sconced in some sheltering crevice of the hills 

A cot, whereto has crept a helpless throng, 

Widows and orphans, with a scanty store, — 

The sweepings of their larders and their bins, — 

To eke out famished days ; the while they hope 

Slow down unto despair beneath God's sky 

And 'mid His generous fields. The path is hid 

By woven brambles, long untrod, so blind 

A hound would fail the way. But as they go 

On their swift hungering search, they hear afar 

In the still air of eve a mother's song 

Lulling her babe to sleep — the olden song 

That builds a stair from sorest earth to heaven ; 

But they are of deep Hell, and naught they hear 

But the hard cry of hunger. Straight they go, 

As famished wolves that break through tangled wood, 

Straightway to plunder they have scented far. 

'T is quickly done as fits the Devil's work, 

And he has one more harvest from this earth 

Under the Banner 231 

Whereto the Lord sent man. The night shuts down 
As black as night should be in path of war 
To hide it from the sky, and through it creep 
The skulking hounds back to their sheltering flags 
To sleep in safety there by faithful hearts — 
Good ward 'gainst Satan. 

Yea, and ye who hear 
Would hide ye in that darkness, waiting day 
To light again your flags and heal your eyes 
With all the glory of brave hearts that march 
To save your commonwealth. So have your sires 
The weary ages on made of the dark 
A shield to hide them from the shame of war, 
And all your singers help to blink the truth 
That war is Hell, loosed from the nether deeps 
Where ye help Satan slip the bolts that hold 
His caged hosts from man. 

The morning herds 
The stars back to their fold, and vagrant day, 
That once sowed plenty in these waiting fields, 
Glowers upon their ruin. Forth there sings 
The cry of bugle — senseless shout of brass 
That roars so long as there is left of breath 
To stir the heart of man. 

So day by day 
And night by night they tread those vistas down 
That open endlessly. 

Where is the foe 
That marched unto the north ? No answer comes 

232 Under the Banner 

From scouts who vanished swift into the dark 
That warps this lifeless earth. The soldier knows 
His task in battle's clutch, in patient siege, 
When stroke on stroke slow wins him to the end 
Over his comrades' graves : but thus to grope 
In the vast silence of forgotten lands, 
Seeking the spectre of an unknown host, 
Brings need of men who look afar and high 
And not to common flags. 

There comes a morn 
When with the lift of veil the fore-guard halts, 
Looks forth, and listens to a pulse that beats 
Far in the night mists : scarce it is a sound, 
Rather the throbbing of a far-off sea 
To wake the heart that is to it attuned. 
The soldier knows it is the bay of guns, 
Crying their welcome unto foe and friend. 
Swift with their swaying flags the signal men 
Send wide their message to the hosts that shout 
The weary shipwrecked's welcome. Never men 
Spent by far swimming gladlier hailed the shore 
Of the entombing sea: no longer lost 
In numb immensity, but foot on earth 
Where heart and hand may smite a man's way on 
To day or dark, they lift their weary packs, 
And lines that crept as wounded serpents swing 
On with the might that sees to victory. 
'T was forty miles away where leaped those guns, 

Under the Banner 233 

But ere the sunset they have trod them down 
And won touch with their homes. 

All night it flows, 
That wondrous torrent through the gateway set 
In the stout warding lines. First enters in 
The train that bears the wounded and the worn — 
The wreckage of hard deeds, who lift their heads 
To look upon their peace, and know 'tis done, 
That endless racking over stony ways ; 
And then the thousand wagons, freighted once 
With plenteous rations, rattling now as drums, 
But all too heavy for the famished mules 
That stumbling sway them on ; and then the guns, 
Dusty and grim, but still fate's tireless hounds 
To bay the coming hunt ; after, the swarms 
Of troopers marching by their worn-out steeds, 
That scarce can pack their saddles and their bones — 
A starved host, yet man and beast alike 
With hearts and thews of steel that need but rest. 
A fill of sleep and victual, and those frames 
Will hurricane the earth, while now they grope 
Like spectres to their graves, and lay them down 
As they would bide forever, — each a space 
Of silent hunger waiting to be filled 
Of all the Lord can send of comrades' help. 
And first for that good filling comes the throng 
Of lusty youth and manhood waiting there, 
Ten thousand hulking fellows full of sap, 
To swell the sunken ranks — raw men, but true. 

234 Under the Banner 

They try " Hurrah " — it dies within their throats 

At sight of that grim silence. Could ye cheer 

The ghosts of Caesar's legions flitting in 

Through port ye 've opened wide ? With willing hands 

And nimble wits they help them to their rest, 

Loose gear and lay the weariness to earth ; 

Swift from the camp-fires bring them food and drink, 

Lend, best of all, the touch of loving hands 

That stays the flagging soul. 

Oh, it is good 
To find the port when we have fought the sea 
Until the life is out. Yea, all this realm 
Is shaped of deeps and havens — deeps where souls 
Shall fight on unto death, and past the gate 
Know touch of comrade's hand. 

So with the men : 
They drink in life until their shapes are full, 
Feed on from dawn to dark, sleep fast till day, 
And then da capo till they wake to sing. 
But they, the captains, have a fight to wage 
'Gainst that hard foeman Time. All is set clear 
Of battles, march, and siege, yet those who read 
Know nothing of war's toil : to fit the trains ; 
Shoe horse and man ; mend all the precious gear 
Of that vast engine so that it may fare, 
Once more stout ship, forth to the 'wildering sea 
Ready for battle's shout ; while those who care 
For food of beast and man heap up the store 
In endless wagons ranked along the streets. 

Under the Banner 235 

The ordnance men try every arm to find 
If it be true for duty — fill the stores 
Of cartridge, shot, and shell. It is a deed 
To set a hundred thousand men for proof 
In war's hard tasking ; else is for the Lord, 
Who loves the ready host. Yea, it is brave 
To see a mighty ship cleave on through deeps, 
Or see a host swing to the marshal's wand ; 
But ye know there the moment's deed that shines 
Because an unseen host has faithfully 
Delved for that doing till the task was done, 
All save the momentary. 

'T is ready now : 
On the third day, the thing that entered in 
Like phantom ship to haven breasts the sea 
As Nelson's ships that sought their Trafalgar, 
And counted naught but reaches of the deep 
'Twixt them and victory — brave for that dark 
Wherein their fate is hid. 

Behold the field : 
It lacks all fields can give save place to lie 
Where waiting vultures set them to their task. 
Yet forth they stride as men upon their quest, 
Naught seeing save its end. For now the scouts, 
Swift riding through the dark, have searched the foe, 
Found that his march was halted on the brink 
Of the Ohio, shrunken to a span 
But fronted by a host swift gathered there — 
Greybeards and lads and women clad as men ; 

236 Under the Banner 

A throng that martinets look on as leaves 
A whiff of powder scatters, yet a host 
That those who know their folk know well will stay- 
Where they have mind to die, yea, stupidly, 
Because they see but Yore them, while hard men 
Who know war's game see well to what 's behind 
Of goodly space for scamper till they clutch 
A better place to stand, though it be far 
From where their captains wait them. 

Let us look 
The nearer at that muster of our folk, 
The vastest it has sent adown our ways 
Since England sprang to stay that mighty king 
Who masked in petticoats, upon that day 
When the Armada swept unto her shores, 
And gave the world fair token of what waits 
'Fore the invaders' feet. Ye who have seen 
This tedious creature, man, go sleepily 
In his dull round of duty, with no blink 
On sky or deeper earth, know not the man 
The Lord hath hid within that idle heap 
To wait His purposes. This plain, dull man 
Comes from the dust, and unto dust goes back 
The generations on, until some morn 
Flames on the sky the call unto his heart ; 
And then his head lifts up, for to his soul 
Enters the waiting might of men who bore 
Himself in valiant days : the men who stood 
Firm planted on the hills by Alfred's side ; 

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Trooped forth o'er Tilbury field, or built the wall 

Of Naseby where the surge of Rupert's charge 

Broke into wrack and left our England's might 

Unshaken for all time. So troop they on, 

Those silent majesties of vanished days, 

To old familiar places on the wall 

Of that enduring fortress — heart of man — 

They 've built the ages on. A motley throng — 

Old Britons in their breech-clouts, Saxon thanes, 

Men who stayed Coeur de Lion, men who drew 

Stout bows at Agincourt, or drove the pikes 

Straight over Cressy's ground, Old Ironsides, 

Who as the Devil battled for the Lord 

When came His crowning mercy at Dunbar, 

And nearer yet the men who laid them down 

In stout King's mountain fight, or found the gate 

To the eternal on unnamed fields 

That gave them all they asked of earth and sky, 

Man's true way out of life. Yea, they are still ; 

Slip so as shadows to the place that he, 

The keeper of the hold, knows not they come 

To stay beside him, and if needs be die 

Once more faith's noble death. 

Here is a flock 
Of fledglings from far nests, mere piping lads, 
Who 've 'scaped their mothers and are forth to heed 
The old cry in their hearts that made them men 
With one brave shout. Nay, nay, they will not turn, 
For that high note doth echo on and on 

238 Under the Banner 

In their awakened souls, as yet unfilled 

With coward greeds and lusts. Ye may tread down 

Such callow youth 'neath hardened legions' feet ; 

Ye will not find them in the scuttling rout, 

But with their faces turned unto the sky, 

Where their wide eyes have seen the messenger 

Cleaving the spaces. 

Behold another throng 
From the far end of life, old, grizzled men, 
Who 've won them to the verge of threescore ten, 
When Psalmist reckons life as weariness, 
Its fires out, and naught but ashes where 
The once bright altar flamed — the cannoneers 
Who rammed the heated guns in Perry's fight, 
Or when brave Pakenham's host at New Orleans 
Swept chaff-like 'fore their blast. They long have dwelt 
Beside their chimneys, dreaming out their days 
With tales of ancient war ; dear, half-forgot, 
Mere treasured memories, that share no more 
In profitable deeds. The yesterday 
They heard the cry that quicks the hearts of men : 
Up went their white heads, straightened out their backs, 
And in their veins came tide of youth again. 
Swift was their muster by an iron gun, 
That for an age hath slept on village green : 
An ancient war dog that shared memories 
With them of olden deeds. 'T was rusted deep, 
Until its throat was like a honeycomb, 
Its trail and wheels worm-eaten — still the gun 

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Round which their youth had danced in many a fight. 

The village smith had patched it here and there, 

The grandames shaped their petticoats for bags 

To hold the powder, and the pyramid 

Of painted shot half sunken in the earth 

Gave rest of ammunition. There they are, 

The mightiest score that ever trod a field, 

For in their helpless valour is the sign 

Of what lives on within the hearts of men 

Even when life is out. "A chance to die 

Where men would die to keep their land from shame : 

We ask but that, good captain," was their prayer, 

Straight from their soldier hearts. 

Of such the host 
That halted Bragg upon the Ohio's verge, 
Made that stern soldier see that 'fore him lay 
A wilderness of war, where stout men fall 
Before the might of shapeless throngs who count 
But on the stroke they send, and take their death 
With never look behind. So he lay there, 
To speculate with fate, perchance to win 
Now here and there a pawn; to force the holds, 
Enwrapped by his hosts as isles in sea, 
To render to his arms ; nursing his strength 
On the rich gleanings of the ravaged farms : 
So played the Fabian game until fair time 
Gave chance for deeds. 'T is a good game 
When ye have Rome for castle, with Rome's hearts 
Ranked close upon its walls. Ay, but that name 

240 Under the Banner 

Of Fabius spells ruin when you wait 
In open fields a veteran foe that swings 
As eagle for the pounce. 

So forth it goes, 
That aged host, upon its fatal way 
Over an earth that waited in stark drought 
For slacking of its thirst from hearts of men. 
This epic of the march may not be told 
In straightway fashion of the mountebank, 
When with his puppets he bedecks his boards, 
Each matching trick to other; so the play 
To squeak of pipe and whack of drum goes on 
Until, his pennies gathered, comes the end. 
We now behold the sea, whose cadences 
Top here and there the roar and then fall back 
Into the 'whelming shout of all its hosts, 
A symphony that wakes a seraph's ear, 
But dulleth that of man. So we may catch 
Above the diapason cry on cry, 
Of those who sink and those who touch the shore : 
With that in heart, we guess the else of man 
That goes into the deep. 

The march flows on, 
A mighty river sheaf of myriad springs 
Swayed by the Lord unto His waiting sea, 
Wherein each life is but a drop of dew — 
So says the master of the Orient faith. 
Nay, sage, it is not thus with men ; they stay, 
Living or dead, as jewels in the stream, 

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Or in the outer deep whereto it flows ; 

Such end in all-confounding fits the realm 

Of primal things that never lifted up 

Glad eyes and knew their Lord. But those that see 

Unto His throne live on, for they have looked 

Unto His splendour. Let us jewels grasp, 

N^w here, now there, from out the hiding sea; 

Set them to gleam awhile within our hearts, 

So we may light us on our upward way, 

Knowing it leads to God. 

First of these gems 
See a fair youth, who looked but yesterday 
Into the dark and knew the Lord was there 
Commanding him to deeds ; woke as a man 
From childhood's dreams upon the mother's knee 
To face men's grimmest work. Hail, Edward Wolff! 
Near half a hundred years have sent their blooms 
To deck thy grave, and all of thee is dust 
That earth may claim its own ; and yet thou stay'st 
With those who die that men may ever live 
In the Lord's light, well knowing that black days 
Of starkest winter wait dear life to spring 
Up from the earth to heaven. Still I see there 
By Cynthiana's ford the leaping guns 
Baying glad welcome to the host that comes 
Straight on o'er heaped dead. Sure is the toll 
They pay for that hard passing of the flood ; 
Swift is the dance of nimble cannoneers 
To the quick music of those ministers 

242 Under the Banner 

That serve the rage of men. There, 'mid the flame 

And whirl of smoke, I see thy fair young face 

Lit by that hell-fire — girl's face, with a crown 

Of golden ringlets fit to grace a song. 

Right o'er their dead sweep Morgan's veterans 

Up to the guns. With one far look away, 

Down slip'st thou by thy comrades. So 't is gone, 

Thy life made for God's day ; and all is still, 

Save for the victor's shout and mother's cry 

To deep that answers not. 

Roar on, ye drums ; 
Clamour, ye trumpets, to the eternal vault; 
Tramp on, ye legions, tread into the earth 
All of its blossoms, stain its noblest springs 
With the heart-blood of man ! Harvest earth's woe 
To the eternal garner ! Still we will glean 
Out of your ravage the glory of days. 
Hail, Jackson ! in thy shape there fares a man 
Who should have marched by Caesar o'er the world 
With idle might that treadeth straightway on ; 
For in thy eyes I see his mastering soul 
Look o'er his legions to the bounds of earth. 
I well remember how thou pacedst the cage 
Where thou wast prisoned by our 'customed life — 
A courteous, placid lion, trained to bear 
The gilded chains as if it loved their frets : 
With lifted head and eyes that gazed afar 
And look that compassed wilds. Yea, well I knew, 
When as a lad I faced thee, how there dwelt 

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That primal monarch 'neath the gentleman, 

Ready to spring into its native realm 

When time came for the leap. Now thou art free 

To rage on to the end — the lion's end 

That comes the morrow, when on yonder field 

Thou 'It charge with Caesar in thy legions' front 

'Gainst legions stout as e'er that master set. 

I see thy valour lift the front of war 

As toppling surge and send it roaring on. 

I see thee ride its crest, and hear thy shout 

When it breaks on that shore, breaks and rolls back 

From the unshakable. Then in that wreck, 

Swift shaping as the sea for new assault, 

Rages my lion with the might to sway 

The host of demons in the heart of man 

To deeds of God or Satan. Forth it sweeps 

Once more to smite, once more to know the rock 

Of firm-knit brothers' hearts. So on and on 

Beat those vast pulses of the warring deep 

Until the battle ends, and they who seek — 

Those sometime foes — together for their dead, 

They turn thy face to sky to see the light 

That lit thee forth still in its silence glow, 

As with God's welcome to brave deeds afar. 

Roar out, ye bugles, clamour forth ye drums, 
Trample, ye hosts, until the earth is sere 
As the black streets of Hell. Yet well we glean 
For the garners of love seed that shall spring 
To beauty forever. 

244 Under the Banner 

So as our host sweeps on look forth the eyes, 
The stars from out man's deep, dear eyes that see 
O'er battle's clamour to their waited place 
In the eternal peace. Why should we name 
Now here, now there, a man, when all who go 
On in that vast procession march with all, 
And have for due more than all song can lend 
To sing them on their way ? Yea, we will leave 
Those unsung men unto their loneliness 
That foldeth in the heart that seeks the grave 
With Him for guide. We '11 turn as for a look 
Upon those edifices that are shaped 
When brother 's linked to brother for far tasks, 
Where man's life is but drop in sea of deeds. 

Behold those banners that flit down the way, 

Those ragged bits of flame that top the staves 

Borne by those trusted, who know well the trust 

Is warrant of swift death. Each lights a throng 

Of close-knit men, who know the might that comes 

From soul of brother who stays by his side, 

Firm there for all that fate may ever send : 

Those ancient legions dubbed with modern names, 

The regiments and squadrons of our time, 

Still the old legions that hath valour borne 

Since man learned might of man, that have marched on 

With Alexanders long forgot and Hannibals 

That lacked their Livy's page. Here is a host 

Fair sample of their shape — a hundred men 

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That ride beside their guns, those brazen-mouthed, 

Who have bade welcome over many a field 

To many a roaring charge — swept it away 

As hurricane sweeps corn, to sullen wait 

For next that cometh on. A scurvy crew 

Of unkempt chaps : some in their saddles loll 

Like idle louts, catching at winks of sleep 

And dreams of far-off homes ; some o'er the guns, 

For better chance upon those lurching beds 

Than saddle gives unto their tired hulks. 

Their horses wander widely as they will, 

Gaunt frames that once were steeds, now skins and bones, 

Seeking like starved hounds the chance to stay 

The desert hunger in that desert earth. 

Those caravans that troop o'er western plains, 

Mere odds and ends of folk, seem as war-proof 

As this dejected medley. — Then the cry 

Of bugles from the van, and random shots 

That ring from yonder wood, send spurring aides 

Bearing swift orders down the surging line. 

With the first note, as at the lanyard's pull 

That bids the shot away, those hulks leap up 

Into their war shape. Echo sends the call 

Back from the hills. Five score of veterans, 

Stern-visaged, nimble, gather round the guns, 

Each to appointed place. The horses swing 

Unto their stations eager as the men, 

Heads up, ears pricked, and nostrils flaring wide 

To catch the trumpet's note that sends it forth, 

246 Under the Banner 

A firm-knit might of linked beasts and men. 
This fearful thing 's a legion, where the dead 
Fight on with those who die ; where comers new 
Slip into shades of those who fare swift on 
Into the shadow-land. Now flareth out 
The call from its own trumpet. See it whirl 
By the right flank away, crushing right on 
With roar that shakes the earth and stirs the sky 
In storm-cloud beaten from the parched earth, 
O'er fences, stones, and gullies, till the note 
Of trumpet swings it to o'ertopping hill, 
Into its ragged order; moment's whirl 
Of guns and men and steeds ere it is shaped 
Into the waiting silence Yore the rage 
Of storm comes on. The daunted foe draws back 
At stroke of fore-guard ; back the bugles send 
The legions to the march. Once more those men 
Seem lazy brutes — no more. 

The sun is down, 
And all our host spreads out as in the sky 
The marching thunder-clouds in mists diffuse 
When the hot day is o'er. Now from the vales 
And the far hill-tops twinkle the camp-fires 
Where lie those legions, ordered so they '11 stand 
At call in battle-lines. On every way 
And 'cross the fields the pickets watch the dark, 
And far through wood and valley sweep the scouts, 
To smite and hold the foe and send swift word 
That sets the lines for battle. All 's as safe 

Under the Banner 247 

As brothers' faith can shape it. 'T is the time 

When men put off their arms, and once again 

Are lads upon a playground, or afar 

In homes where dwell their sweethearts or their sires, 

Or 'hap to those still places where their dead 

Sleep at the end of all their lifetime war ; 

When he who goes observant through the throng, 

Seeking to read what 's writ upon the page, — 

That which escapes our volumed histories, — 

May see the look on face that tells the man 

What woman makes and keeps to serve the Lord, 

Or 'hap old Satan — look of yearning heart 

For mother, sister, maid, that dims hard eyes 

And softeneth those lineaments of brass 

War sets where was the man. Yea, like to death 

New come with peace, transfiguring the shape, 

Is the soul's stillness in those memories 

So calm, so far away, so in the deep 

Of the great primal, love. 'T is but a glint 

Of all that host of shinings that are seen 

By eyes that see in eyes what makes them stars 

Gleaming in heaven's vault. 

Now for the sheen 
From off another facet of man's soul. 
Here in an empty sheepfold 'mid the weeds 
Once green and lusty, now like crackling straw 
That crumples 'neath th' intruder's feet and makes 
A sorry bed for those poor wretched shapes, 
The bearers lift the stricken, lay them down 

248 Under the Banner 

In the good churchyard order, two and two, 
With space between them where the surgeons kneel 
To do their part. Swiftly the space is filled, 
And swift those men of mercy do their tasks, 
With the still look of those who seek to heal 
Or help the passer. Some are from the front, 
Struck down in little fights, borne in for miles 
By weary brothers on rude litters shaped 
With muskets and with blankets, others packed 
As sacks on saddle-bow to 'scape the chase 
Of the on-coming foe, with brother's arms 
To hold them safe if 'hap life in them stayed. 
And with these, smitten in the shock of arms, 
A white-faced throng of those who in the march 
Have battled on against the fever's might, 
Fought its grim spectre, praying for the strength 
To wear once more the weary march away 
In hope of bettered morn, at last to fall 
Worn to mere shred of man. The lantern sends 
A moment's light upon each agony 
As the deft surgeon careth for the woe 
With whate'er may assuage, be it but sleep, 
The blessed sleep that wakes so peacefully 
In God's own morning. Now the light moves on, 
The stars look down into those weary eyes. 
So last good-night is said. Oh, ye who dwell 
Where youth and manhood, stayers of dear homes, 
Who bear the lightsome burthen of long years 
To set the world with blossoms and with fruit 

Under the Banner 249 

In love and heritage of love, see them laid 
By their untimely graves, lone and afar 
From all that helps the passing — look ye here 
On God's undying shame. 

Turn ye again 
The wondrous jewel of this life and see 
Another facet that sends forth its ray 
To glimmer merrily, an ancient sheen 
That 's lit the night for legions since they 've tramped 
This old orb up and down. Here are the men 
We saw about the guns, who presto changed 
From louts to veterans and back to louts, 
To tune of piping brass. Presto once again, 
They change to players. In that brotherhood 
Of jumbled men shaped by the legion's soul 
There 's wreckage of two troupes, whose trade went out 
When war set its grim comedy afield 
To hold the eyes of men. There, 'twixt two guns 
Set on the spokes and axles, they 've a stage 
Made of the wagon boards, contrived to fit 
Their frolic humour well, as like of old 
In barns and courtyards where the masters bade 
Their eager audience to see far Rome, 
Or to the elfin realms of fairy-land, 
Over the dirty setting of the play. Yea, this suits well 
To time and place. On either side the guns, 
The brass new polished, yet with their black maws 
Where harbours death, stand warders of the stage, 
Lit by the battle lanterns, Argus-eyed, 

250 Under the Banner 

That serve the gunners when in dark they dance 

Their morris round them, or that light the shell 

When, held 'twixt knees, the steady hand cuts fuse 

So shot may find the foe ; or show who 's down 

And who swift takes his place. There 's music, too, 

For with the host go fiddlers, flutes, and else 

To shape an orchestra. For audience, 

A shouting multitude that chorus sends 

To every well-known song ; applauds the part 

Of every player who acts to its mind, 

Else hurls him off the boards. Ye who have seen 

Smug congregations gathered for a play 

As yesterday for preaching, know not how 

The mimic life can stir the hearts of men 

Who roar on with it ; find in it the torch 

To light them on hard ways. 

They 're nimble chaps, 
And set all in a trice so f t is prepared 
As swift as for a fight. The scene awaits 
The entry of the actors from the dark 
That serves as green room ; now the first leaps in 
To roar the prelude — burnt cork and ivory 
That make the nigger ; yea, they judge right well 
What fits the time and place, for place and time 
Are servants of that blackness fate hath sent 
To rob them of their day : and it is well 
They take it merrily — and like the shape 
That brought us Afric night, gives what it hath 
Of fun and frolic as it dances on 
Into the night it made. 

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Welcome, Jim Crow! 
For all thou art a raven, thou canst sing 
As mockingbird 'neath moon ; thou art no lark 
To carol up the sun ; yea, all thou hast 
Of chortle in thy pipe is echo sent 
From ancient droning 'neath the lazy palms, 
Or mimic of thy masters. Yet thy soul 
Hath in it that dear note of primal days 
When first the brute looked forth and knew him man, 
With goodly earth about and light above, 
Dim and afar, and yet that light of heaven 
The realm first knew in thee. Howl out thy song 
And thrum thy banjo. When this age is writ 
And all its wonders counted, thou wilt stay 
The strangest of its shapes — telling what waits 
Of fate within those stubborn wrecks of time 
Which lie the world about, to block the path 
Of prosperous ventures. Our sins set thee here 
To do the tasks of beasts, and now we go 
To reckon our account and take fit doom 
Where shame pays its hard forfeits. Prance away 
Upon our stage ; it is all well with thee, 
Thy merry heart will bear thee ages on 
Amid the ruin that thy presence breeds 
In this fair commonwealth ; and if it falls 
There in the wreckage, thou wilt prance right on 
In the old Afric way, and never know 
What went into the deep. 'Hap 't is thy part, 
Thine and thy like of changeless primitive, 

252 Under the Banner 

To keep the ancient substance of our kind, 

The flesh and bones of body and of soul. 

Safe in the garner of the baser life, 

So that those vagrants we name civilized, 

Those prodigals who waste their heritage 

In far and daring ventures towards the sky, 

May find a pauper's refuge in the hut 

These humbler keep for them. — He needs be grim 

Who looks on Jim Crow's face and turns away 

From its contagious grin, for there 's the fun, 

The immortal fun, that fences souls from deeps, 

Shuts out the infinite, makes actors all 

In the dear comedy. Jackdaws are grave 

And monkeys bewigged judges to Jim Crow, 

Who sends straight to our eyes the antic shape 

Of all men's doings. 

The prelude shapes the play ; there 's nothing here 
But gibes and quirks and merry happenings 
In cracks and whacks, with now and then a song 
That arches spaces with the one word, " home," 
To still the boisterous throng. 'T is but a glint, 
Quick turned away, for those rude actors knew 
Their part right well : so once again the jeers 
At all that 's set above them, from the Lord 
To last whose won his straps. To hear the gibes 
And roaring echo from the listeners, 
You 'd think our host on verge of mutiny. 
It is the ancient way of all their folk, 

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To find their fellowship with gods and men 
In howled contention 'gainst all things that are ; 
Profaning all their altars in their words, 
To die beside them faithful in their deeds. 
The morrow they will tread with willing feet 
Straight to their graves at bidding of the least 
Of those they scoff this eve — with never halt 
Upon the Master's way. 

Now the tattoo 
Slips from the bugles for swift way in air, 
Seeking the echo of the unseen hills, 
Bidding to sleep. So finds the play its end. 
The stage has vanished, as all stages do, 
Swift in the dark. The boards where Sambo pranced 
Are back into the wagons, and the lamps 
Are ready for the next dance by the guns 
When Johnny comes of night, and all the host 
That roared before the stage slips to the earth 
For the good sleep of merry weariness, 
The best that soldier knows. Three drum-taps ring, 
The lights wink out, and all our world is still, 
Save for the distant shout where sentry hails 
The wary captains, who search well the lines 
To see the ward is good. 

Such is a host 
Swinging across the earth to smite its foe 
With hardened legions. Yea, the might of men 
Is 'neath his banners in that forward march 
Straight to far purposes ; yet, would ye see 

254 Under the Banner 

The greater majesty of fearful war, 
Go seek it in the sleeping camp where lies 
A nation's strength awaiting day's return 
To bid it forth to death. There on the earth 
In ordered lines a hundred thousand men 
Beside their arms betake them to God's peace ; 
Turn for a while in dreams to far-off homes. 
To happiness that they have made a dream 
That duty's part be done. Walk down those lines, 
Knowing this sleep presages that to come, 
When in like order they shall rest for aye 
At end of all this battle — with the Lord, 
Merged in His host beneath the waiting earth. 
Here lies a grizzled fellow on whose face 
The watching moon shows touch of tears that came 
Ere weariness bore weary sorrow down 
Into forgetfulness ; and here the callow lad 
Who was the wicked damsel in the play, 
Full of side-splitting antics, light as air, 
Sobbing his heartache with his face to earth. 
Here a fair youth that day made for its joy, 
To send its radiance into childhood's eyes, 
Starts from his sleep and wildly looks afar 
Into the night, moaning a woman's name; 
His troubled neighbours roar their brutal gibes 
Until he wakes and flings him back to earth 
To lie as with the dead. So on and on 
Ye may review the host and see them all — 
^The shipwrecked of life's deep, the castaways, 

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Who watch the hopeless sea for lift of sail 

Until their lives go out. For in the march 

The brutal shape 's atop and hides the man 

From neighbours, — yea, himself, — so that we know 

Xaught but his commonplace, the rags he wears 

To hide his shamefaced splendour; but this night 

Ye see this hardened villain that in sun 

Was sinner fit for Satan, know in him 

That mortal hopelessness, the very pit 

Where fate may grave the soul. Yea, as in death, 

The man who looks up into loving eyes 

Clean of earth's foulness, as if glad to tell 

To world he parts from what was in him hid 

Of God's nobility, so in this slumbering host, 

Empured in night's still spaces, we may read 

What 's writ upon the souls all hid bv dav, 

That lifteth men above the realm of clods ; 

See in this stalking horror clad in arms, 

Lit on by banners, glamoured by the love 

Of feebleness for strength and fear for deeds 

Of all-inspiring valour, Satan herds 

His troops to nether Hell. 

And now the lark 
Leaps from the flaring trumpets swift away 
To hills and hearts of men, and echo finds 
Alike in both, for morn is ever morn, 
With hope to lift the curtains and good joy 
To usher in the pageant of the day. 
The sorrow of the darkness is forgot, 

256 Under the Banner 

And e'en the sorest heart knows why birds sing. 
Swift all 's made ready for the onward march, 
And ere the sun hath swept above the hills 
The legions swing them forth in ordered lines. 
So on and on the days soar up to noon 
And stoop down into night, until the earth, 
Burnt by stark drought, is now like Afric sands, 
A famished realm where they must thirsting go, 
Dreaming of springs, of streams where heaven sends 
Its glorious plenty. Yea, 't is hard to thirst 
Over a land that hath within it hid 
The wine of life; to know that 'neath your feet 
In cavern arches vast and cool and still 
Are noble founts that idly flow to sea, 
Leaving your life to starve. The pioneers 
With pick and powder break way to those caves, 
Searching those hidden springs, till 'hap they look 
Into those wondrous spaces where the deep 
Hath shaped its temples to the unseen God, 
Cathedrals vast that ne'er have known the tread 
Of weary sinners, nor have heard the cry 
To Him that stills all thirst. Far in those fanes 
Veiled by the stalactites they find a stream 
That flows forever ; quick a line is made 
From the dark portal down into the deep, 
And swift the buckets pass so all may taste 
Once more that blessed drink and hie them on 
As famished as before. 

The march is hard 

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When earth 's at best, when in the laden fields 

Is plenty for the taking, and clear streams 

Plash from their fonts across each mile of way. 

Where you may drink your thirsty fill and thank 

The Lord who sendeth thirst and for it springs. 

That half a hundred weight, a soldiers gear, 

Is little to a beast, but to a man 

A sore accursed load, that bears him down 

As he tramps out the path to horizon 

Whereto his soul doth bid him. Where he fares 

Sore-footed, tortured from his head to heels, 

A plodding brute who does his master's will : 

Asks but to know his way. Yea, hard at best 

When sky bows down to bless ; but when the arch 

Is of this brass that spans a desert earth 

With all its pastures withered back to dust, 

It is but blundering quest of weary men 

For place where they may die. Here every morn 

Brings day more famished than the yesterday ; 

Here cattle, who know well the hidden springs 

In shadowed dells and where in parched streams 

There bides last pool, or where the lush grass stays, 

Moan out their life. See there beside the way 

Where was a lakelet full unto the brim, 

Set round with lilies, now a filthy pit, 

Mud-rimmed, with but a centre patch of ooze, 

And in that festering mire the shapes of men 

Who crept into it with the thirst they know 

258 Under the Banner 

Who bleed of mortal wounds; crept in to drown, 
Their longing unassuaged. 

We '11 now away 
For wider sight of that broad field of war. 
Come to yon butte, that in its castled steep 
Enwalls a far-up plain — land fit to be 
Acropolis to Tend the realm it crowns 
Against the wide world's siege. It is the wreck 
Of ancient land that once stood in this air 
High as the summit ; all else gone to the deep 
Upon the ceaseless march of earth that goes 
In the vast pageant trooping to the sea. 
From this still, far-up place, so high and lone 
That never beast hath trod it, where but wings 
Seek for a resting-place, we now look forth 
Over the war-worn plain and see how man 
. Mimics his Maker in the rage to send 
What is down to the deep, to wreck fair lands 
That new may from their dust arise. Afar 
The sun of morning glimmers through the dust 
That hides its face. There, fifty miles away, 
On weary roads the foe is hastening south 
To 'scape the stroke that else the morrow brings 
From Buell on his flank. Here at our feet 
Tramp on the myriads of our mighty host, 
Striving to win the vantage in the game, 
Dust-wrapped as is the foe, for burnt-up earth 
At tread of foot dissolves in burnt-up air. 
Hear that vast clank of wheels and beat of hoofs, 

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The lashing whips that goad the flagging teams, 

Curses and cries that spur the weary men 

To wear away the miles that we may come 

Timely to give the stroke; 't is so we win 

To save the commonwealth, right on through Hell. 

Thus o'er the desert, once the fairest land 

That ever lent its substance to man's need, 

As mother breast to child, these armies swing, 

Searching for chance to smite. Here on this steep, 

Parted from all that turmoil by the peace 

That dwells within the spaces, we would stay 

To wait the silence that will come full soon 

When all that tumult hath swept on around 

The arch of weary earth : here wait until 

The sky doth send its rain and life comes back 

Unto this stricken wild. But we must on, 

On with those masters till we scan their deeds 

In all their fell completeness. 

Still for days 
And still for nights this torment racketh on. 
Earth is a furnace, sky a lambent flame, 
Hearts are but cinders, and those shapes of men 
Cased in the sweat and dust are mummies old 
From Egypt's graves, where never cometh rain 
To loose them back to earth. The fields are fire ; 
On them no man can rest until he 's dead. 
The soldiers dig the brittle sod away 
And lie within the pits as in their graves. 
They stretch them on the harness or the guns, 

260 Under the Banner 

Hew down the sapless trees, and on the boughs 
Find blessed shelter from once welcome ground. 
The bivouac we saw where merriment 
Cloaked well its sorrow, and where blessed sleep 
Came like the dew to fresh the souls of men, 
Hath now but darkness where a ceaseless moan 
Goes forth unto the night. 

Still forth they send, 
Those changeless pipes of brass, their shout of morn : 
So for the ages on they Ve called to men — 
" Upon your feet all ye who are not dead, 
Here is a day for duty ere ye die ! " 
So forth they stagger, wondering how it comes 
They are not with the blessed who sleep on 
Waiting that other trump — how 't is that man 
Tramps on when life is out. There is no more 
Of blessed comradeship that balms all hurts 
With hand and heart. Each in himself is sealed 
By overmastering pain. Each stumbles on, 
And if his comrade falls, steps over him 
As if he crossed a stone. For 't is the time 
When all the man is worn out, and there stays 
Naught but the primal brute within the hulk, 
That ancient might that bears the soldier on 
As an automaton. Yea, they 're the dead 
Who've strangely missed their graves. 

'Tis now high noon 
Of that last terror God meant for a day ; 
Those starved beasts are silent as the dead — 

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There ring no more commands to spur them on — 

And yet they onward surge as swings the shot, 

Though might that hurled it forth is echo now. 

Then through the host there sweeps a tide of hope, 

A rumour such as wildly springs in throngs, 

Born of their hunger, or now strangely guessed 

By senses hid from man while he is man, 

But native to the brute that he is now, 

In battle for dear life. 'T is that there 's hid 

Beyond yon wood that stretches to the sky 

A sometime river, and within its bed 

The pools for which they pant. The officers 

Catch quick the rumour — know the host will break 

As maddened beasts straightway unto their quest ; 

Know that the column will become a rout, 

With chance of planted foe beside that stream. 

Swiftly they swing the corps to right and left, 

Shaping a battle order so they '11 on 

Formed for the stroke, if need of stroke is there ; 

Then for a hard rush forward to the goal, 

Inhuman, blind, as when the buffalo, 

Long famished in the blasted prairies, scent 

In the all-holding air the breath of stream 

And rage unto it. So, new life in heart, 

The host breaks through the wood in open lines, 

Wave upon wave, confused as in flight, / 

Looking a rabble, yet a rout that shapes 

Swiftly to battle front at bugle's call. 

The dried earth crackles 'neath their hurrying feet ; 

262 Under the Banner 

The tangles break before them. 'T is a wild 

That since the primal ne'er hath known of man 

Save when the lonely hunter silent crept 

Upon those ancient trails deep worn in earth, 

Carved by the feet of many a vanished kind, 

Mammoth and mastodon, whose footprints showed 

Way to the gentle deer. This shade hath known 

Ages of flight and chase in myriad shapes, 

Of brutal hunger and o'ermastering fear, 

But never yet this demon might of man 

In the rude front of war. While swift our host 

Sweeps through this ancient forest, as the tide 

Through the sea grass and tangles, onward borne 

By vast compulsion of the far-off orbs 

Unto its destiny, its mighty foe, 

In a like torment fighting hard for life, 

Hath caught the hope of succour in the vale — 

Of drink in Chaplin's Fork. They too strive on, 

Uncaring that they front the arms they Ve sought 

To 'scape by marches hard. For in each burns 

The thirst that he must slake — yea, if he drinks 

From Charon's boat on way across the Styx. 

So nears the last act of this tragedy, 
Where armies are the actors and the scene 
This ancient wilderness, wherein they tread 
Swift to the finish. Let us look away 
To see the stage where all this action ends : 
The wood is wide, unbroken save for vale 

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Where, 'mid a strip of fields, the shrunken stream 

Trickles as tiny spring from pool to pool, 

Fed from the caverns in the nearby hills — 

A little island of fertility 

Set in that weary, famished, war-trod waste, 

Fenced by that forest from marauding bands 

And from the hostile sky by sunny springs, 

That deep earth sends to-day. See, there are homes 

Unstricken yet, with children by their doors, 

And pastures where are sheep, and kine yet know 

The goodness of earth's pastures : .it is noon, 

So they are gathered 'neath the arching trees 

Or belly-deep in pools; drowse where the shade 

Of the great rocks gives harbour from the sun. 

Yea, 't is an isle of peace that breaks the sea, 

Set in its wilderness as that far height 

Whence we looked forth upon the rage that went 

A day ago unto its near won goal. 

See in that little valley where a spring, 

Slipping from 'neath a crag, endows a field 

With all that deeps above and deeps below 

May give to bit of earth, a cabin stands, 

Built of well-shapen logs that tell the care 

Of builder who had love within his heart 

And shaped of it a home. It is girt in 

By blossoms, kinds that have for ages sent 

Their kiss to eyes of women for the care 

That gave to them the day ; so have they won 

From our dear mothers of a thousand years 

264 Under the Banner 

Abiding loveliness ; yea, as the bees 

The ages on have shaped the world of blooms 

From primal nothingness until it looks 

Content upon the stars, these mistresses 

Of the old hives of men have wrought these cups 

To be the chalices whence we drink love, 

Unknowing how immortal love hath shaped 

The wine and cup for us. 

A woman stands 
Amid the morning-glories with her babe 
Pressed to her heart, as she would stay the fear 
That dwells in her sad eyes as far away 
She hearkens to the roar that onward comes 
Like tramp of surge that fronts a mighty tide 
Clamouring unto the land. First in the east 
Far as the horizon the thunder beats, 
Then in the west it rumbles from the wood, 
Now dim and muffled like the quake of air 
Out of great organ pipes before the wind 
Hath waked their cadences : swiftly they change 
To the vast tumult of on-striving hosts, 
The cry of bugles, thunder of rude wheels, 
The captains shouting, and the roar of men 
Who look to near won goal. See in the east 
From out the woods that crest the gentle hills 
Leap the forerunning of the avalanche, 
The skirmishers, who, finding naught of foe, 
Dash forward on the run. And then the line 
Of the great thirsting host sweeps like the leaves 

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Before the wind. Bowed, hungry-eyed, they go 

Like famished beasts and hurl them at the stream 

In the fierce lust of thirst. What was a might 

Of ordered legions that no storm of war 

Could break to tumult now 's a maddened throng 

That surges to the pools. The first who come 

And cast them down to drink are trodden o'er 

By the insensate mob that rushes on: 

Yet in a moment comes the bugle call 

That wakes the soldier, swings him to his place 

To bide the order. Swiftly guards are set 

Over the precious founts, and details, fill 

The canteens from the pools. Each has his share, 

A moment's slake of that devouring thirst 

The sea would hardly quench. Then as good life 

Comes back into their hearts, they look away 

Over that oasis and dream of homes 

They left enwrapped in peace in Georgia's hills, 

Or Alabama's vales. 

Yea, as they gaze 
Upon that lonely woman with her babe 
Held close to heart, they yearn to far away 
And are for time as men. She idly looks 
A moment on that host, then unto the wood 
That stretches to the west. As yet 't is still 
In its vast shadowy spaces where the sight 
Sweeps through the towering arches of the trees 
From day unto the dark. Then o'er the domes 
Of the great fane she sees the birds stream up 

266 Under the Banner 

In flocks unto the sky, and from the way 
That leads unto its shade leaps forth a doe, 
With fawn beside her, chased by panic fear ; 
Within the sunlight it a moment stays, 
Looks wildly on the throng and back to wood, 
Then, as it saw to hope, straight on it goes 
Unto the woman, who with touch of hand 
Gives silent welcome while she looks afar. 
Then comes a throng of 'wildered beasts that flee, 
Swayed by like fear, unto the open fields 
From wonted coverts, seeking with the flocks 
Of sheep or cattle refuge in their plight. 
The freshened soldiers set them on the hunt, 
But quick the leaders read those omens true, 
And know a battle-line sweeps through that wild. 
The bugles flare, and ready drums whir out 
The assembly call, and swift the adjutants 
Order the lines to meet what on them comes. 
Quick to each point of vantage haste the guns 
Unto the hills and gates of forest ways, 
And back of them the grey-ranked infantry, 
Dun as volcanic ashes. On the flanks 
Gather the troopers, with their squadrons set 
For 'whelming charge upon a stricken foe, 
Or for the stroke that halts his victory. 
It is a splendour, grimmest of this earth, 
Such ordered might that bides the coming storm, 
Silent, unfearing, trusting to the Lord 
And to the brother's faith ; with hearts that turn 

Under the Banner 267 

From sight of waiting death to far-off homes, 

Where bide their loved ones — bide and hope and pray 

Until the night shuts down. Yet with keen eyes 

And ears attuned they set them to their task, 

Hearkening the rage of that on-coming sea 

That 'hap shall 'whelm them. Now it roars afar — 

A mingled sound of myriad feet that break 

Way through the forest tangle ; captains' shouts 

Who strive to shape the host ; wild cries of men 

Who see the glimmer of the open day 

Peer through the forest gates. Now forth it leaps, 

That tide of blue, broken as is the sea 

Striven through reef and tangle to the shore — 

Sweeps far into the open, sees the foe 

Ranked for hard welcome. Then across the vale 

Swiftly the mastering orders swing that rout 

Back to the forest verge for well-closed lines, 

Whereon the stillness of the spacious realm 

Comes as a shadow down. How oft the sun 

Hath looked upon this scene, where earth's good fields, 

Clad in His harvests, wait the rush of hosts 

To trample ruin where He plenty sends, 

And change dear homes to shambles ! Look your last 

Upon this realm of peace that quick deep Hell 

Shall gather to its fold. There still are homes 

Where frightened women strive to hush the wail 

Of children in whose hearts the olden fear — 

The primal demon — springs. There yet are flocks 

That look unto those roof-trees for good ward 

268 Under the Banner 

From ancient peril ; blossoms love hath shaped 

Unto their beauty. Still the matron stands, 

Babe clasped to heart, and crouching by her side 

The doe and fawn — twin mothers in this wild 

Where God and man have bade them wait for death. 

She looks away as shipwrecked for a sail 

Over the 'wildered sea, as if she knew 

Amid those myriads there was one to stay 

Her heart in its sore ail. Those stern men look 

As men have looked, the hapless ages on, 

Upon the abodes of peace they are to stamp 

Beneath their ruthless feet — yea, they are still 

Before that Satan's altar that awaits 

The innocence it is their part to slay. 

They are the Devil's priests, yet they are men 

With hearts bowed down 'fore what he bids them do, 

Chained to his service by the will of God, 

In those strange gyves he forges for the souls 

That seek his purposes. 

Now comes the cry 
From out the trumpets — hard, insensate shout 
That wakes the demon in the hearts of men, 
Sending that wave of blue adown the slope. 
Swift from the east the cannon answer, hail 
With shell and shrapnel that arch high in air, 
And swoop as hawks to quarry. From the west 
O'er the on-rushing wave our cannoneers 
Send like swift message, telling earth and sky 
That Hell is once more master of their world. 

Under the Banner 269 

Now in a moment all the vale is wrapped 
Beneath a pall, as if those brutal guns 
Would from the heavens hide the work they do 
At bidding of their lords. 

Let us not seek 
To scan that torment ; men may do this task 
That Satan sets them, yet live on as men ; 
For the hot breath of action sweeps them past 
The horror of their deeds, to leave them far 
In the still spaces with their souls assoiled. 
But he who looks on battle with still heart, 
Watching the eddies of its fiery tides 
And reckoning their sweep, goes to the deep 
And shares its curse with Satan. Let us go 
For soul's empuring back into the wood, 
Where silent majesties lift up to sky 
Their offerings of peace and 'neath their arms 
Keep the eternal shelter. 'T is a step, 
And that volcanic roar is far away ; 
The cannon's thunder and the muskets' crash, 
The maddened cry of men who close for stroke 
Straight at each other's hearts, are as the hum 
Of whirring spindles and the throb of looms 
Where legions spin and weave. Or where afar 
Comes chaunt of distant waters hastening down 
From the far hills into the waiting sea, 
Or hum of bees that tend their ordered hives 
And harvest summer for their winter's cheer. 
For in this primal temple all is shaped 

270 Under the Banner 

Unto enduring song to hail the Lord, 
Though He hide far away. See, here *s a nest 
Of mother partridge with her speckled eggs. 
Each with its miracle of life to be 
Hid in its tiny sphere. The mother comes 
Back from her flight with chirp to her unborn 
To tell them danger 's by. And there 's a hill 
Of ants that build their ordered commonwealth 
Deep in the earth and frame it to live on 
In stately shapeliness and during peace. 
Still from the valley sweeps the far-off hum, 
That throb of shuttle and the spindles' whir : 
Yon world of men is living as is this 
With the hard tasks of life. 

Lean down thy ear 
Upon this earth, so dry it seems as dust ; 
Hark there the murmurs sweep — as in a shell 
We Ve picked up on the shore and listen to 
For wondrous tale of sea — of far down springs, 
Of far up branches swaying in the wind, 
And deeper yet the song of mother earth 
In glad expectancy of her great womb : 
The far down thunder of the mighty toil 
That shapes the lands to be, faint tinkling notes 
Of merry atoms as they dance away 
To find their place in garners where they wait 
As gold, or precious stones, or wondrous ores, 
That shall at touch of hand spring forth to serve 
The need of men to come. In all that realm 

Under the Banner 271 

We know the Master's will, the Mother's love 
Shaping for life to be. 

Still from the vale 
Sways up that other song, so strangely set 
In its wild dissonance 'gainst this of earth, 
As angels' choir 'gainst that which roareth forth 
From the dark gates into the senseless void. 
See in that sunlit space are moths that dance 
Their weddings in the air. Each filmy thing 
Hath in its shape the life that ages on 
The mighty Mother 's bred to bear her love 
And fruit in joy. When the twain lives are joined 
And the fair seed sent to good winter's care, 
They vanish in the dark. So on and on 
Forever goes the jocund round of day 
In this primeval. — Lend again to earth 
Thine ear and hearken once again the song. 
'T is now from dust that once had shape in man, 
Whereto the dear life comes for memory 
Past all its wanderings in God's wide realm, 
So lit with noble stars ; 't is but a moan — 
Yea, far away and faint, and yet so clear : 
" Dear brothers of the day, bide in its light 
And shape it to life's raiment 'gainst the cold 
Of the deep spaces past the darkened gate, 
Where winter numbs the naked, who fare on 
As heedless wanderers who have no store 
From His all-giving sun. Come not as we 
Unto the Boundless, paupers to the throne, 

272 Under the Banner 

To see the happier, vestured in His love 
And winged with mercy, hie them to their task 
Of shaping for His will." 

Now yonder vale 
Stills in the gloaming, so we '11 turn us back 
Unto our brethren, seeing to the end 
Of the great tragedy, — the end that came 
While in this nearby wood the ancient stage 
Had love upon it in the noble play 
Of life that knows the deeps of earth and sky : 
How good e'en death at end of those fair days 
The Lord doth bid it to. 

Ah, what is here ? 
Forth from the portal of the wood we look 
Over the valley to the further hills, 
Upon a scene we know not. All is changed : 
As that fair city by the southern sea, 
Trusting the deeps, slept 'neath its arching palms 
Until the demon smote it, so those fields, 
And all they bore, have vanished in the scorch 
Of war's volcanic breath. Where stood fair homes 
Are smouldering ash-heaps ; where embattled hosts, 
The scorched earth is flecked as by the leaves 
After an autumn gale — those ragged bits 
That once were men. How still and flat they lie ! 
For when the life is out, 't is but a dot 
Upon the earth that living was a king. 
So from the portal of the wood. But on 
With all thou hast of soul to stay thy heart — 

Under the Banner 273 

Steel-tempered mind that takes this living woe 
As if it were the deed of far-off days, 
Washed out by tears and faded to a tale 
That stirs our hearts but stirs them languidly — 
For nearer view of what shall scorch thy heart 
With sight of what is man. See, now we come 
Where lie the first that fell, rent by the shells 
As forward leapt the charge. They are but few — 
Mayhap three score — that counts not in a fight. 
The foe aimed high ; it needed tenfold that 
To stay the rush and hurl the remnant back. 
Yet they Ve one gunner who can train a piece, 
For in this heap that was a man and horse — 
Now a strange medley they must grave as one — 
See, there are epaulettes that bear a star. 
This shows good practice, for a shot like that 
Will often shake a charge that would not mind 
Chance whack on one in fivt : the man should have 
His shoulder-straps for it. 'Tis but two hours 
Since these men laid them down ; yet here they lie 
As if they 'd lain forever in their sleep, 
So parted are they from the glorious day, 
So far within the night. Now there 's a space 
Where leapt the charge unscathed by the fire, 
With here and there the fleck where some stout man, 
Slain with his comrades, battled on with death 
That he might die with flag near to the foe, 
Or 'hap when life was out he was swept on 
In the great surge as wave sweeps on a stone. 

274 Under the Banner 

We see just here that Johnny lost the range 

For twenty seconds — that the best will do : 

When Satan on you comes, the steadiest 

Have eyes that blink the sights and fingers thumbs, 

In the nice business of laying gun. 

Rut here is plenty : see, so quickly strewn 

That for broad acres of this trampled corn 

You must step warily, or else you '11 tread 

Upon some bit that once knew it a man, 

That squirms beneath your feet unpleasantly. 

Now for some furlongs' breadth they lie so close 

They 'd serve as stepping-stones across a stream 

Wide as the Mississippi at its flood. 

You see that here the muskets did their work — 

Great guns are but as toys until the charge 

Is on their mouths, and double canister 

As a tornado sweeps the host in air. 

The most are still, but here and there one writhes 

To free him from the dead that bear him down, 

So he have chance to draw at least the breath 

That sends him to the spaces. You would help 

To lift his burthens from him ? Nay, good man, 

'T is but a drop you 'd save from this wide sea. 

He '11 find the way out sooner if he lies 

There as he fell. Yea, even now he goes 

To join his brethren. And here lies a lad 

In Johnny's ragged grey : a shapely boy, 

Scarce half-way through his teens. See in his hand 

A letter clutched still — 'twas his last thought 

Under the Banner 275 

That passer-by should send it on its way. 
There you can help. To Mistress So-and-So, 
Sure it is for his mother. Here '11 be truce 
For pick and spade work, so you '11 have the chance 
To send the story to her ; nay, better leave 
The poor heart to its hope for yet a day : 
Mayhap 't will quench in hunger Tore it knows 
The hand that wrote is still. 

Here is a place 
Where charge met counter charge ; you see it well, 
For here the mingled flecks of blue and grey 
Are flattened down ; stamped into sunbaked earth 
By myriad feet, as to and fro the hordes 
Swung in the fearful rush. And strangely here 
White patches blotched with crimson, where we tread 
Softly as on a velvet matted floor 
Wherein the foot sinks with luxurious ease. 
Look close — they are the sheep that pastured here, 
Dear emblems of His peace. And now we come 
Upon a battery that followed up 
To stay our charge and send the cleaving strokes 
Upon the foeman's lines. Six weary guns, 
Mere wreckage : four with mouths to earth, 
And two that stay on shattered carriages. 
Between and under is a tangled heap 
That quivers here and there, and in the midst, 
'Twixt two that stand, their captain face to sky, 
A lanyard in each hand, that tells he stood 
Last of the company, then hied away 

276 Under the Banner 

In fiery chariot with comrades brave, 
Whom he blew from his guns. 

We Ve trodden far, 
And 9 t is a rugged path, such battled field, 
Where swift the soul wears out j yet we will on 
To see the finish of it : 'mid this woe, 
'T will not be hard to die of weariness 
And the heart sickening that doth beg for peace, 
For all the hard mask that the soldier wears 
Looking upon his work. Here are the pools 
Whereunto strove the hosts, and here they lie 
At the won goal as drift-wood on the banks 
Where raging flood is by : a heaped wreck. 
There in the channel they are strewn so thick 
That the on-creeping stream scarce oozes through 
The cumbering mounds. Upon the further slope 
Where stood the line of grey there lies a ridge 
Skirting the path of stream, yea, as a wall, 
To show how like a rampart living stood 
The ranks were here laid down. 

So far the tale 
Writ in these shapes that in the noonday were 
The best the sun e'er lifted from the dust 
To fashion for earth's glory. Another waits 
For those who hapless 'scaped to bear this woe 
Until 't is wearied down. Theirs the sore task 
To shape this ruin so the morrow's sun 
May look upon the living, fit to do 
Like work before it sets. They 're swift at it : 

Under the Banner 277 

A thousand bearers tread in ordered lines, 

As might the harvesters, across those fields. 

They scan and turn each heap with surgeon care 

To find a life to save. 'T is gently done 

With a rude skill, for well the veteran 

Learns when the man may live, when he must die. 

So they tread onward, leaving many there 

Who plead for succour, for they know right well 

The great Leech waits beside them. See them lift 

That mangled shape upon the stretcher's bed 

As tender mother careth for hurt child, 

Twist up the tourniquets, and trot away 

In careful haste to where the surgeons ply 

Their fearful task of saving. In an hour 

They '11 glean the living from this field of dead, 

Yet leave it laden even as 't is now. 

The sunset dies, but 't is the harvest moon 
That tends belated toil in all those fields 
Where happy folk haste in the summer's yield 
For winter's store. See there, how full and round 
Swings up that glory in the eastern sky. 
We know it stark and cold, a senseless thing, 
Save that it hath its light from during sun 
That by it sends here greeting and good help 
To those who labour on until their task, 
However sore, be done. There in the fields 
Upon the battle's verge a weary throng, 
Worn nigh to death, are delving in hard earth 

278 Under the Banner 

The trenches for the dead. They may not wait 
The morrow for the task, for with the day 
Hard duty rides to bid them on the march 
Or to new battle-lines. Yea, and the sun 
Hath duty too by those poor bits of clay 
That best be done beneath the sheltering earth — 
The goodly office that sends back the dust 
To the vast store that feeds the life to be, 
Yet scanty for the need ; that we deem vile 
Because it rends our shapes and those we love, 
And leaves but memory of all that 's been. 
We will to them and see this harvest home. 

How bowed and still they are who do this task ! 

Save as the picks thump in unwilling ground, 

Or shovels ring upon the flints, 't is still 

As though 't was spectre's work. The trench begun, 

Swiftly the bearers lay their burthens in 

Close side by side, with faces to the sky, 

And in such order as their mangled limbs 

May take from kindly hands. As they are laid 

The fillers make the finish ; steadily, 

Yet with eyes turned away, they ply their task, 

With wonder if the morrow they 're to lie 

In a like grave. The most the bearers bring 

Are sorry shreds of what were once stout men : 

For when the life-tide 's out, the shapeliest 

Are shrivelled up as seed-pods when they 've done 

Their fitting part. Yet now they bear a form — 

Under the Banner 279 

One of those seldom whom death cannot smite 

Out of nobility ; yea, he looks to sky 

As if he faced the deep as should a man 

Who knows his Maker's image is in him 

Deathless forever ; and as those toilers stay 

Before that majesty, their task forgot, 

One goes swift unto it and casts him down, 

Moaning, on that still heart. You see how like 

The living and the dead : you know the rest 

As though 't was fairly writ. His comrades take 

The brother from his dead, and we fare on, 

Leaving the toilers to their ancient task. 

And as we wander aimless as the air, 

With step aside to let the burthens pass, 

And idle look at some new shape of death 

That starts from out the dusk beside our way, 

We happen on the ruin of that house 

Where stood the woman clasping babe to heart, 

When age ago we went into the wood 

To save our souls from Hell. All is away 

That gave it glory when we looked before : 

The flowers trampled as all else to earth 

That iron feet can batter heedless down. 

Upon the very threshold lie the dead, 

And 'neath them, dead, the mother doe and fawn 

That sought there shelter — else we might not know 

This shot-rent, blackened charnel-house the home 

Where love had made its nest. We enter in : 

The door is wide — we need not stay to knock, 

280 Under the Banner 

For from the place all sanctities are gone, 

Chased forth by shames. It may be that* this roof 

Under its dark will give us chance to rest 

Our weary eyes from that which lies without 

Beneath the harvest moon. See on the hearth 

Amid the embers flickers yet the fire 

About the vessels set for noonday meal. 

By it a woman crouches, lone and still, 

With babe to her bared breast. She heeds us not : 

Were we the Lord or Satan, she would heed 

Naught but the woe that slays her ; so we stray, 

As he who trod with Virgil step by step, 

To scan those circles — looked down in the pit 

That lies the deepest from the light of sun, 

With frozen heart and limbs that would not stir 

For all his will to flee. Yea, what's without 

Is day to this black night that here shuts in 

This lonely woman bowed beside the hearth 

That was her altar, hapless, innocent, 

Smote by the wrath of God. Now comes a stir 

To break the silence — measured march of feet, 

As those who bear a burthen ; carefully 

They lift it to the bed, — her marriage bed, — 

The bed where came her babe unto her heart. 

They straighten out the shape and cross the hands, 

Weigh down the staring eyes — those helpless deeds 

Men do to one who passes. Then they go 

Forth to their toil without a spoken word, 

As if this world was by the time for speech. 

Under the Banner 281 

She heeded not their coming — knew it not — 
Nor of their going. Yea, but now she heeds, 
As if that presence called her. Then she looks, 
And fixedly, upon the dead, as if 
She had come back from far ; she slowly goes, 
Lays her dead babe beside him, wipes away 
The blood upon its lips. Then she lifts up, 
Looks forth into the dark as if she saw 
In the Almighty's face, with right to scan, 
This foul pretence of mercy, justice, help, 
Sent to His servants of this stricken earth, 
And then she falls, the life out, to the floor. 
We lift her carefully and lay her down 
Beside him and the child ; we see her breast 
Is riven by the shot that slew her child, 
But that she waited, hoping to the end, 
As women wait their loved. This is the end. 

Come forth and shut the door ; step heedfully, 
For yet the way is cumbered. Though we see 
The harvesters are flitting with their loads 
Unto the garners, else this world is still, — 
Save for the thump of picks and clods that fall 
Upon the upturned faces, all is still, — 
Sleeping with stars to watch and summer moon, 
Full-orbed and glorious, pregnant with the love 
That lovers see in her. — " Nay, 't is a lie, 
A pretty trick to cheat us to our graves 
And cast us in them helpless at the end, 

282 Under the Banner 

Setting this world with seemings of a God 
Where there bides only Satan. Past that door 
Is answer to all prophets in those dead 
Who tell this earth is shame." " Nay, good friend, 
Here we tread on with Satan masked as man, 
But with the sun up comes the Lord to chase 
That demon from the world. So ages on 
Ormuzd and Ahriman, in joy and woe, 
In love and hate, circle the sphere around. 
Yea, every orb that spins hath day and night, 
And some lack moons to tell that day endures 
Beyond the darkened round. Thus on they go, 
For eons on, dark smiting love and hope, 
Slaying God's angels as within yon door. 
So shall it be until the hearts of men — 
Men of this earth or men of farthest star — 
Give judgement in this trial ; cast their swords 
In one or other of these balanced scales, 
And Ahriman or Ormuzd to the deep ! 
We may not doubt the end. That 's but a sham, 
A vagrant fancy, that finds in this Hell 
Else than its fiery blackness — clings to hope 
When reason bids despair. Let us be men 
With hearts for it, nor palter with the truth, 
The sorry remnant of the good we dreamed 
The heritage of man." 

So we go on, 
Stirring the silence with our witless tongues, 
As men so oft have gone in battled fields, 

Under the Banner 283 

With souls all hopeless crying to the deeps 

And vainly hearking to their emptiness. And as we go, 

With night-wrapped hearts that wait for glint of morn, 

A shadow comes o'er moon ; midway in sky 

Front of another battle, vaster yet 

Than Satan sets on earth — these legions swing 

Swift mustered from the sea and sent away 

In marshalled hosts to sweep upon the lands. 

It is a mighty order ; Yore its front 

Stream out the skirmishers that swift explore 

The empty spaces of the desert air 

As if they sought a foe, and then the line 

Of lurid blackness, as a fortress wall 

With towered steeps and heights impregnable 

As the enduring night, from past the stars 

Were marching 'gainst the realm of things create. 

Now from its ramparts forth the lightnings spring, 

Waking to thunder all the over realms, 

Stroke upon stroke to mock the wrath of man. 

See there one falls as plummet from the sky ; 

Not like its fellows in swift, zigzag search 

For place to smite, but as a messenger 

Straightway to do His service. Straight its way 

Unto that cot, an instant glory there, 

And then swift flames that tell the stroke went true 

Unto its bidding and its task is done. 

So opened heaven's vista in that night 

Unto our souls, and then its blessed rain 

Came with tumultuous joy to kiss the earth 

284 Under the Banner 

Again to loveliness. — Oh, 't is long gone, 

But those who lived that night out, and who look 

Yet to the dark, have glory in old eyes 

Burnt there as that wild tempest swept away 

Death from a stricken land. Yea, they know well 

How in that storm the rivers roaring came 

From out the hills upon their way to sea : 

How all that tortured bit of earth was healed 

With floods that smoothed its graves and sent its wreck 

Swift to the waiting deep. And now our host, 

Caged by the raging streams, drinks deep, and knows 

How good is earth to be on, yea, how good 

To all who win their way out of that night. 

Ay, it is long ago ; near all are dead 

Who trod that march and field — or friend or foe 

There found their graves in peace, and this hard world 

Has shaken 'neath the tramp of other hosts, 

And other women have clasped babe to breast 

In a like agony; and oft the moon, 

Helping to noble harvest, lit good fields 

Where Satan reaped; and hopeful years have lent 

Blossoms to deck their graves. Love shapes its nests 

Swift from hard ruin ; so the sparrows build 

Of winter's wreck good cradles for their chicks, 

And men shape waste of battles to uplift 

Hope to new life. See on that stricken earth 

How brave the harvests hold up to the sun, 

Ripening for men to be, and all this air 

Under the Banner 285 

That throbbed with battle is now won to song, 

As sweet and low as mother's lullaby 

That hushes her babe's sleep to gentle dreams ; 

Chaunting forever to the hearts of men 

Of valour that claimed death so men might live 

Upon a bettered earth. And as we list that hymn, 

Up comes the round of silent harvest moon 

Over the eastern hills, and far we see 

The bearers with their burthens of ripe corn, 

Great laden wains that creep unto the barns, 

While happy weariness beside them goes. 

And there a mother gives her breast to babe, 

By fireside where the smoking supper waits 

His coming home. — Yea, this old world is young. 

Its age and villainy are but the mask 

Of youth and love eternal, and its dust 

But seed that waits to spring — seed in the earth, 

Deep hidden there with death, invisible 

Save to the eye of God, until it lifts 

Once more from earth to sky. Take from the store 

A handful — search it through : all seems decay — 

Mere wreck of things that were, that silent goes 

Back to mere emptiness of common dust. 

But lay it in the sun and let the dew 

Descend upon it, then it 's all alive 

With might that soars to beauty, full of gems 

That hid them from the day that they might wait 

For day's good service at the call of God. 


Years after, when the graves were smoothed and green 
We saw new-laid at Perryville, and those 
Who took their shearing there had gone forth shorn 
Of this or that of limb to do man's part 
With what the Lord had left them, by a chance 
Upon a stage-top, drowsing through the dark 
'Mid Cordilleran hills, two veterans met, — 
Ex-Johnny and ex-Yank, — and in the way 
Of those who talk in night, half-musingly, 
More to the spaces than attending ears, — 
For there 's no face to check with questionings 
And keep us to the commonplace of days, — 
They came on ancient quest of how a man 
May find his way out when he is against 
The outer blackness. Then once more was told 
The tale of captain who, amid his guns, 
His men all dead, his pieces gone save two, 
Fell face to earth, drawn lanyard in each hand, 
And so went forth on well-attended way. 
Then from the dark the Johnny capped that tale : 
"Yes, 'twas at Chaplin's Fork. I saw it done, 
For I was there before you. It was when 
We were with Cheatham, and we rushed those guns. 
Three times we tried it : thrice they tossed us back — 
What did not go in air to rattle down 

Told in the Dark 287 

In chunks and rags upon the men behind. 

It 's bad enough to have the front ranks slip, 

When you must stumble past ; but when they fly 

Down on your head in pieces, it seems tough, 

And you are middling likely to light out. 

This time we waited for full half an hour, 

While twenty guns were whacking at his six. 

'Twas near enough to see they pounded hard. 

Two pieces to the right and two to left 

Were knocked to flinders. All his men lay still — 

And they warn't possuming. So on we went, 

This time for certain, for his game was up — 

We 'd break their line and win. But when we came 

To home stretch in our run with not a sign 

Of life in all that outfit, up he rose 

Upon his knees, that chap, between the guns 

That still stood in the centre. In each hand 

He held a lanyard, so we knew his game. 

Three times before we'd faced it, — gone right on 

Until we went up blazing ; but the sight 

Of that tough captain on his knees was worse 

Than all his hundred dancing. It's black dark, — 

You can't see heads of wheelers ; but I see 

That fellow kneeling, white-faced as a ghost, 

His head bent forward, and his blazing eyes, 

When, fifty yards away, with all our shot 

Whacked straight at him, he tumbled ; but he pulled 

Both lanyards true, and half our company 

Skipped in the fiery chariot. When 't was done, 

288 Told in the Dark 

We turned him over — what was left of him. 

He did n't bleed — he 'd been dead half an hour, 

But waited for his escort. We forgot 

What we went there for — didn't do the trick 

Of right and left, to flank the broken line, 

But drifted back worse beaten than before. 

To have a dead man whack you 's mighty queer ; 

You 're good for nothing till you 've had a sleep — 

If he will let you have it. So you see, 

A dead man with the Devil can do more 

Than most who think they 're living, if he 's got 

The righteous stuff in him." Thus, from the dark, 

The ancient Johnny phrased it — not so high 

Or wide as you would shape it, yet as true 

Unto this rude world's needs. 



It is at Fredericksburg : the battle 's raged 

From dawn till dark and on from dark till day. 

We Johnnies have a job to hold our line 

'Gainst overlapping — task for wits and heels 

Five times our force ; but we have both for that, 

For Stonewall Jackson 's here. Now comes the word 

That o'er the Rappahannock, on the east, 

A force is crossing for stroke on that flank : 

Sent home, we 'd have to scuttle. Jackson 's checked 

Like game upon our right, and now his men 

Catch breath and chance of victual. They must march 

Straight for this peril ; for we 've no reserves 

For swift, sure work. Quick they are afoot, 

And pawing off those ten miles with the swing 

That beats the double-quick of his keen soul — 

He on the very front, as is his way. 

Two hours and he 's there to find it was feint, 

Already blown away. So he must back 

Where business was doing on the left, 

As told his soldier's sense. So right about 

The column swings to bugle, and the ranks 

Of eager hearts surge back without a word 

Or growl for wasted toil, for well they know 

290 The Change of Front 

They are his men in body and in soul. 

Each hath his glory, knowing well that he 

Is of a majesty. But with the change 

The front 's now three miles off, and so old Jack 

Plunges o'er fields and fences, with his staff 

Lumbering behind him, to the leader's post, 

Where eyes may know of danger. As he rides, 

Bobbing like jockey, all the column halts, 

Finding it comic, roaring out the fun 

That tops all reverence : " Come in, old boy, 

The Yanks will catch you ! " — " Don't you run away ! " — 

" Dad, here 's the place for you right with your boys." 

So to that yelled compulsion back he comes 

Upon the road. The men cram to one side 

And bellow out their love in ribaldry, 

While he, cap off, bent low, rides as for life 

Until he wins the front — mops his wet face, 

Scarlet with shame and rage, and for an hour 

Is fazed as never on the hardest field. 

I Ve often wondered what you Yankees thought 

Of that wild racket sent across the stream. 

You must have guessed that fifty thousand men 

Came up to our support : you reckoned right, 

For when they 'd had their chaffing, every man 

Was in his heart a legion for old Jack, 

To die a dozen times, if he 'd a mind 

To ask that trifle of them. 


a johnny's story 

Again of Jackson : now it 's on a halt 

Of days on days : of yonder what it means 

That nothing 's doing when all is to do 

To round out our campaign. This loitering 

Is not much to our minds. The idle men, 

Getting obstreperous, are full of pranks 

That with another lot tell mutiny. Till a shout 

From an observant chap to all the camp, — 

A mot of order, — " Get a move on, boys, 

Old Jack has gone into the brush to pray." 

We all know what that means, and mighty quick 

Are frying bacon, writing letters home, 

Patching sore feet, or conning all our traps 

To find what should be jetsam in the sea 

With the hard faring. Yes, the rogue was right. 

An hour goes by, we see again that cap 

Peep from the sassafras, and then old Jack, 

Still-faced as priest, slips silent to his tent ; 

And quick the bugler by it sounds the call 

That tells his soul is ready. Forth we swing 

The Lord knows where — maybe old Jack told Him, 

Maybe he did n't. But what we know right well 

Is Yanks are in for it, and that we '11 be 

Not quite so many when the job is done. 



He was the chief of our artillery, 
Well-trained old soldier, who had learned his trade 
At West Point and had practised it right well 
In Mexico. Most queer as to his clothes, 
Odd happening, the oddest was his cap, 
Shaped like a cohorn mortar — pointed front : 
Wherever fight was hottest went that cap. 
It stuck up like a steeple, so the boys 
Guyed at it worshipfully — watched in the smoke 
To see it bobbing round, and knew all went 
As well as could be while that cap was there. 
He cared for it, though careless of all else. 
When spattered by a shell, he 'd have it off 
And brush it tenderly, press out the dents, 
And set it back before he looked to see 
What else had happened. So unto the end 
" Old Cap" was keeper of our trusted guns, 
And none were ever lost. Now came the day 
After the finish : Appomattox was 
One night behind us, and we were afoot 
To hunt our homes. 'T was in the early dawn, 
As I was making ready. By my camp 
Were parked those precious guns, and through them 

The Artillery Chief 293 

Alone, for last inspection, he who 'd been 

For those long years their keeper. Slow he went 

And sadly : bidding each old piece farewell : 

Scanning the gear to see that all was fit 

For what of duty 'fore them. When he came 

Unto the last, he lifted up the lid 

Of limber-box, took off the cohorn cap, 

Brushed it right well, then set it tenderly 

Within the case, shut cover down, and turned 

To take my greeting, looking old and queer 

Without his headpiece. " Are you going home P " 

I said to him. " No, major : as you see, 

I have just left my home." 



We 'd lounged about all day in ugly mood. 

We knew it was the end, and knew as well 

We had the Devil in us that would take 

That finish to the pit. Marse Lee and Grant 

Might fix it as they pleased, but we would go 

Into the brush and give the Yanks their fill 

Of Mosby's fighting. If we could not have 

The land we longed for, we could make it Hell. 

We were still twenty thousand — five times that 

Were ready for the shindy. We might win 

The way to Mexico our dads had trod 

And have a fair chance to lick out the French, 

Or maybe Greasers. So the talk went on ; 

All were for mutiny, some for a dash 

As soon 't was dark, so we could keep our arms. 

We 'd scatter through the woods ; there 'd be no risk 

That we 'd be nabbed. Some would take their parole, 

Then skip oflF to the south to join the lot 

Who soon would join us. We 'd no time to think, 

And did n't want to. For all that we 'd had 

Of fighting, still our bellies were not full 

Of that hard victual. Fact was, we were men 

Appomattox 295 

Who had forgot our homes, now mere machines 

For killing neighbours — that 's a veteran. 

So all was ripe for trouble when there came 

Slow riding from the council our Marse Lee. 

We 'd seen him bend in those hard years, and yet 

We 'd never seen him broken and so old. 

At sight of him, our hearts leapt up ; we went 

On a straight run for him : a fellow got 

Right 'fore his horse, and, lifting up his hands, 

Cried : " Oh, Marse Lee, tell us what we should do." 

He drew rein ; in a jiffy all were there, 

Caps off and still as mice — with ten-foot space 

'Twixt us and him, and then a dead-tight pack 

For acres round. He looked on us awhile, 

Then said — it seemed a whisper, but all heard — 

Men, I am going home ; go you there, too. 

We 've fought a man's fight, and we still are men 

To do our part by fireside and our folk 

We have to help. The terms are generous, 

For they 're our friends who have been our brave foes. 

You keep your horses ; you are free to go 

To find your homes or make them. Come with me, 

There 's still time for a crop." That warn't just it — 

I disremember what he said. He warn't 

A cent's worth for a speech. But when he 'd done, 

Each chap had shout within him for his home. 

A lane was opened in the crowd : he went, 

Hat off and silently, and we held still 

Till he was out of sight — a-riding home — 

296 Appomattox 

And then we jumped to follow, as we 'd used 

When he showed us the way. We all forgot 

Of Mexico and Mosby : for we saw 

Women and children and a house that lay 

Out in the broom-sedged fields, and heard the cry 

Of a great welcome home. We laid our arms 

Right willingly ; for now our fingers itched 

For hold of ploughtail. — Somewhere, I have read 

A lot of learning as to how it was 

That all that war was ended with a bang 

Like busted shell. You see now how it was : 

Marse Lee went riding home, and we went too — 

Because we could n't help it. 


I rode with Hotchkiss, on an eve in June, 

Far down the Shenandoah — all the vale 

So lit with summer's hope that end of day 

Seemed as the morning, making naught of night 

That dwelt not in men's hearts. Scant twenty years 

Since 't was the path of war. But twenty years 

Is all an age for healing of rent earth : 

Babes wax to men and women, widows find 

Their rest with long-lost lovers, and the hills 

Forget the bugles' echoes, throb of guns, 

And the hard agony of men who die 

That commonwealth may live. We who were foes, 

Now close-knit friends, were nearer in that place 

By the dim shadows of forgotten war, 

To make trust dearer. As we onward went 

Amid the wheat-fields, oft he turned aside 

To scan some nook wrapped in the commonplace 

Of weeds or corn ; then I read in his eyes 

Of deeds that men did there, but he was still. 

At length we came where Massanuten's wall 

Stands like a great ship midway of the vale, 

Parting that sea of plenty east and west. 

Here a wide field still bore the stamp of hosts — 

An old cantonment with the heaps of stone 

Where men had built them hearths beside their tents, 

298 The Soldier's Way 

Now bramble-covered ; save for paths, a wild, 
Deep trodden by their feet. Here my good friend 
Came from his silence — told me a strange tale 
Of his great leader, Jackson, one that tells 
What lit that thunderbolt upon the way 
To his swift smiting. 

" Here we were cantoned, 
Some twenty thousand, watching winter out, 
Soldered in mud, fighting for chance to keep 
Our bellies from collapse and what was left 
Of marrow still unfrozen. Bottomless 
Was every road, and what of victual came 
Wallowed to us afoot 'cross sodden fields, 
In cattle that we plucked as hungry wolves 
To hides and bones. Another day had worn 
Out to the finish in the weary round 
That promised nothing but the like to come 
From dripping earth and sky. We drowsed like cats 
Beside our smudging camp-fires stupidly, — 

1 Old Jack ' the dullest, — till we crept to bed, 
To dream that two months more would set us free 
To lark it once again. I 'd slept an hour ; 
Woke startled as he shook me — bade me rise; 
Stood waiting silent till I was attired, 
Then led the way to where a meal was laid ; 
Without a word sat waiting till I 'd done, 
Then went with me to door where stood my horse 
And waiting orderly. Then the command : 

' Ride down the range to cross-roads ; there you '11 find 

The Soldier's Way 299 

The force of Colonel M. Make sure 'tis he; 
Give him the order " Forward." ' Ere I spurred, 
I asked what next to do. c Should I come back 
Here for report? ' c Yes, straightway here.' 
I fought with night and storm until I bumped 
Upon that mounted thousand ; worked to front, 
Lit match, and found the leader — gave the word ; 
Backed horse into the hedgerow while it roared 
Northward into the dark. 'T was four o'clock 
When I won back, to find black emptiness 
Here where I 'd left that host. I lit a torch, 
Found how the footprints pointed, and rode hard, 
But it was noon before I made report 

i Unto that mystery that looked away 
In speculation past the eastern hills. " 

" And yet he trusted you, we know so well, 
You shaped his fields for action with your maps." 

" Yes, yes ; but we 'd a saying that he prayed 
Right carefully to keep his plans well hid 
From himself and the Lord. His was a soul 
Shaped for contriving silence. All his deeds 
Were their own trumpeters. His thunderbolts 
Were still as seed .in earth until they leapt 
Straight to their purposes." 


Again 'tis Hotchkiss' story. Of the host 

Never a gruesome tale, — such men forget, 

Or grave as deep as maybe in their souls, — 

This time the last one of the mighty store 

That Homer should have shaped. 'T was thus it ran 

a The war was ended when the sun went down 

On Appomattox field. All through that night 

We packed our remnants, ready to hie home, 

To what was left of it in wreck and woe. 

My share was large : a worn-out wagon crammed 

With maps I 'd made for Jackson and for Lee ; 

They were in tatters like our battle-flags, 

Muddy and blood-stained, ripped by many a shot ; 

But they would win me bread in days to come, 

When railways, mines, and towns would have to be. 

I 'd all Virginia pictured for war's use, 

They 'd serve for peace as well ; for 't is the earth 

We need for business, whate'er it may be — 

Earth set forth clear and true. So I hied on, 

Full of glad hopes, to Staunton; found there home 

Gaunt as the rest ; set my lean steeds to plough, 

And counted days until the corn would serve 

My beggar's state ; and found now here, now there, 

Chance bit of work where my old maps served well. 

So the hard fight was hopeful, till one night 

The Happy Release 301 

There came a provost-guard, clapped me in chains, 

And had me straight away to Washington. 

Their captain, a good fellow, made it clear 

The charge was weighty ; — it concerned those maps — 

Headquarters records — they had run them down 

After a six weeks' search ; and so I stood 

Traitor and thief for trial, with slim chance 

To 'scape the threatened noose. I 'd been a fool 

Who 'd never thought it out. The maps seemed mine — 

Some made before the war, and all as near 

As my own hide to me. Then, while I lay 

Chewing that bitter cud of fear and shame 

And sorrow for my loved ones, came again 

That captain who had nabbed me for a word, 

A hard man's word of help. " See here," he said, 

" Next week they '11 try you, and your chance ain't worth 

A sou marquL Now Lincoln 's dead, you '11 hang, 

For that chap in his boots is gone clean mad, 

And all the town is with him. You shall have 

A try with Grant, maybe he'll help you out. 

He 's a hard ticket, but he is a man 

Who sees things straight — knows what it is himself 

To tumble in a hole and wallow out 

As best he can." The plan seemed but a straw, 

And yet I clutched at it, with little hope, 

For I had seen that sphinx when came the end 

At Appomattox, when he met our Lee 

With iron face. " How will you manage it ? " 

" I '11 take you with a guard up to his door 

302 The Happy Release 

And chuck you in. You '11 have to fight it out. 

Maybe I '11 catch it, but I '11 take the risk 

To give you chance." So forth unto Grant's place 

In the War Office, 'twixt the double files, 

Led by the captain, — passport for the guard, — 

A knock, a gruff " Come in," and there I stood 

Before that bear-trap face and searching eyes 

To fight for life. 

"Who are you?" 

" Hotchkiss, sir, 
Sometime of Jackson's staff." And then behold 
A saving miracle ! "Major, I 'm glad you 've come — 
Yes, I Ve been looking for you for a month. 
Sit down, we '11 have a chat — take a cigar." 
" But you don't smoke?" I said. "Never till then, 
But then most joyfully." " Major," he said, 
" I have a job for you: we need good maps 
Made right away of all the battlefields 
From Gettysburg to Richmond while they 're fresh. 
You know them best, you 've mapped them for your 

Before the fighting : if we 'd had your help, 
We 'd saved a year of it. As for your pay, 
Call it three hundred monthly, rations in. 
Pick out your party. So it is a trade ? " 
I answered with a nod : I did n't dare 
To trust a spoken word. He shook my hand 
And went with me to door. There stood the guard, 
Saluting when it opened. "What is this?" 

The Happy Release 303 

" General, these men came with me ; they wait here 
To take me back to jail. About those maps 
I made for Lee and Jackson ; like a fool 
I took them home with me/' 

" Oh, that 's all right : 
You kept them safe, they '11 help you mightily. 
Here, captain, this man 's free ; he is engaged 
For public service. Find my adjutant, 
He '11 fix the papers up. Major, good-by, 
Your orders will be ready in an hour." 


A hill-top that looks far above the throng 
Of brother hills, and into widening vales 
Wherein the brooks slip onward to the sea. 
A place for castle in old war-worn lands 
When might was master : here, the silent hold 
Where sleep the dead in earth that looks to sky 
For the brave trust in all that dwelleth there. 
Here lies the dust of kindred, sire and son, 
Mother and daughter. Generations on 
Have here won rest and the abiding peace 
The summits only know. One tall shaft lifts, 
With lesser clustered round it as they group 
The children of a house about its hearth 
Before the time for sleep. Hereto have come 
An old man and a youth in ancient quest 
Of place for one more grave, where she shall bide 
Who long hath striven faithfully to serve 
God's will on earth. And as they silent go 
With look to far and near, that she may lie 
Where it is fairest, he, the elder, stoops 
Beside a gravestone where rude wheels have cut 
A deep, now moss-grown scar ; and from the earth 
He lifts the shreds as though on them were writ 
Legend of ancient days, then looks away 
To read again the past they tell to him. 

The Burial Place 305 

'T is not yet two-score years, yet 't is as far 

As Trojan legend to the youth who hears 

How o'er this earth of peace tramped demon war, 

Treading its hills and vales with feet that scorched 

Their goodly life out ; how of all that dwelt 

Out to the rim of sight, peace stayed alone 

With those who bided here in God's strong arms, 

Unheeding Satan's deeds. Now musingly, 

As one who tells himself the half-forgot 

That dwells in kindred heart, the ancient told 

The story of that time. " See there, my lad, 

Upon yon field, there stood our line of war, 

And there from out the south came on the foe 

For the hard grapple. 'T was a swift-set line, 

111 reckoned for war's work, and place to spare 

This hill for what it held. Then to us came 

A master of hard deeds, who nothing cared 

For graves that are or graves that are to be 

When battle's work is on. Swiftly and clear 

Rang his commands. But first of all to me, 

To go upon the run unto this crest 

And place my pieces by this monument, 

Sweeping the highway yonder in the vale. 

Then in a moment, forth the battery 

Swept down the slope before it, broke right through 

The walls and fences, then into that gulch 

In seeming ruin, yet with gear unharmed 

And horses stout enough to pull it out, 

With spur and lash to speed them up the slope. 

306 The Burial Place 

As whirlwind on they went, as whirlwind burst 
Into this place of graves. So came that scar 
Upon this column that shall bear the mark 
Until it goes to dust. 'T is all that tells 
Of that mad storm that went into the deep ; 
*T is but the graves that stay." 


Eighteen hundred and sixty-one : 
There in the echo of Sumter's gun 
Marches the host of the Orphan Brigade, 
Lit by their banners, in hopes best arrayed. 
Five thousand strong, never legion hath borne 
Might as this bears it forth in that morn : 
Hastings and Cressy, Naseby, Dunbar, 
Cowpens and Yorktown, Thousand Years' War, 
Is writ on their hearts as onward afar 
They shout to the roar of their drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-two : 

Well have they paid to the earth its due. 

Close up, steady ! the half are yet here 

And all of the might, for the living bear 

The dead in their hearts over Shiloh's field — 

Rich, O God, is thy harvest's yield ! 

Where faith swings the sickle, trust binds the sheaves, 

To the roll of the surging drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-three : 
Barring Sherman's march to the sea — 
Shorn to a thousand ; face to the foe 
Back, ever back, but stubborn and slow. 
Nineteen hundred wounds they take 

308 The Orphan Brigade 

In that service of Hell, yet the hills they shake 
With the roar of their charge as onward they go 
To the roll of their throbbing drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-four : 

Their banners are tattered, and scarce twelve score, 

Battered and wearied and seared and old, 

Stay by the staves where the Orphans hold 

Firm as a rock when the surges break — 

Shield of a land where men die for His sake, 

For the sake of the brothers whom they have laid low, 

To the roll of their muffled drums. 

Eighteen hundred and sixty-five : 

The Devil is dead and the Lord is alive, 

In the earth that springs where the heroes sleep, 

And in love new born where the stricken weep. 

That legion hath marched past the setting of sun : 

Beaten ? nay, victors : the realms they have won 

Are the hearts of men who forever shall hear 

The throb of their far-off drums. 

ElectrotyPed and printed by H . O. Houghton <5r* Co. 
Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A.